Projects and project management in Belarus
The Republic of Belarus is a country in Eastern Europe, bordered by Russia to the East, Ukraine to the South, Poland to the West, and Lithuania and Latvia to the North. In literature there are many interpretations why Belarus is called “White Russia”, none of them can be proven. During 1917, in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Belarus declared for the first time its independence. Before this event, many states at various times controlled the lands of what is nowadays Belarus, including to the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. During the Soviet Union, Belarus was occupied and integrated as Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. During WWII the republic lost almost a third of its population and half of its economic resources, but continued to be a member of the Soviet Union. Upon dissolution of the Soviet Union, the parliament of the republic proclaimed the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, and on 25 August 1991 its independence. However, nine years later, Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation called the “Union State”.
The economy of Belarus was at the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union one of the world’s most industrially developed states by percentage of GDP as well as the richest member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Later it suffered from a severe economic crisis. President Alexander Lukashenko started an economic regime, called the “Market Socialism”, introducing administrative controls over prices and currency exchange rates, imposing a golden share (management control) to private companies. 2008 the latter was abolished to increase foreign investment. Forests cover about a third of the land, and lumbering is an important sector. Peat, the country’s most valuable mineral resource, is used for fuel and fertilizer and in the chemical industry. Belarus also has deposits of clay, sand, chalk, dolomite, phosphorite, and rock and potassium salt. Main export goods are machinery and equipment, mineral products, chemicals, metals, textiles, and agricultural products. The key countries for export are Russia, Ukraine, the UK and Germany. The wargaming industry in Belarus is an important international player, several companies have specialized in modern electronic wargames, cooperating with the big brands all over the world and being fueled by thousands of new software engineers, being released by the 54 Universities in Belarus.
The World Bank is sponsoring projects in Belarus worth of 74 Million USD, for example developing the forestry or the healthcare system. Through its European Neighborhood Instrument (ENI) the European Union (EU) supports the development of political cooperation and economic integration between the EU and Belarus. For example, ENI funds of approximately 107.3 million euros, or 15.3 million euros per year were awarded during the last seven-year period to projects for improving the quality of vocational education and training in Belarus to increase the attractiveness of vocational training, along with higher education as well as provision of knowledge and skills of young people and adults according to the needs of the labor market. Construction is booming as the country embarks on a widespread programme to upgrade its transport and logistics infrastructure, meeting the rising demand for commercial and retail space, and building tens of thousands of new homes. The National Infrastructure Plan outlines the 100 infrastructure projects between 2016 and 2030, with a focus on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) Projects. In the energy sector, Belarusian Government approved projects for hydro, solar, wind and nuclear power. Belarus has its first nuclear power plant under construction and plans to have it operating from 2019. The project is financed by Russia. Atomstroyexport (ASE) is building the 2400 MW plant, with two VVER-1200 reactors.
There is no national project management association yet in Belarus. During talks late September ´18, invited by the Ministry of Economy, the opportunities were elaborated to get started with a national association. There are several associations already existing in the field of engineering, construction and consulting, but project management is just a theme for them, not a professional body yet. During these talks we discussed the opportunity of making the education and training as well as project management certification of IPMA available in Belarus. The PM association of Russia, SOVNET, explained the process of getting started with an association, aligning activities with the government and the key players of industry as well as getting education and certification activities up and running. In Belarus there are already several offers of academic project management courses and certificates, especially in the construction sector. Several dozens of project managers are certified according to the IPMA 4-Level-Certification System, through a Certification Body in the Ukraine or Russia. During the next months, with support of IPMA, SOVNET and ASE, the formation of a National PM Association will be prepared. This will help the profession to grow, being recognized throughout the world and by the foreign investments targeting well-educated people in the country.