Experts in their respective industries were gathered together to discuss the future of infrastructure investment and innovations in energy.
Caspian Week Conference: Day Two

The first panel discussion at Day Two of Caspian Week 2017 was titled Is Finance the Future for infrastructure? The speakers included Steve Johanns, CEO of the American energy company Veriown, Rehan Chaudhri retired partner of Altrinsic Capital Advisors, Norway's Marten Roed, CEO of Maxi Shipping, and moderator Kaspar Bänz.

These experts in their respective industries were gathered together to discuss the future of infrastructure investment and innovations in energy. In particular, the focus was on exciting new projects in the developing world, which will be responsible for 60% of growth in the next 50 years. Steve Johanns explained that 1.2 billion people today have no access to electricity. In this day and age, he said, this is unacceptable. The answer to solve this simple, but far-reaching problem is to invest in innovation. Johanns outlined his vision of democratising energy systems in the same way the Internet has been democratised. He also emphasised the importance of treating developing countries as functioning economies in order to understand how to innovate within them. His example was introducing solar panels to Africa by operating in the way the local kerosene energy market works. Marten Roed, the builder, offered the advice that looking for niche markets was the way forward. In his Norwegian homeland, he explained, entrepreneurs have always asked themselves the question, "how can we contribute?" In this way, Norway has become a leader in energy innovation. He also reminded the audience of other Nordic role-models: "The Vikings sailed out to sea with no plan of where they were going, but the discovered America. Take a risk, like the Vikings!" Rehan Chaudhri continued the theme of risk-taking. He told the audience that infrastructure projects can be difficult to invest in, due to the fact that circumstances around attractive projects can change for the worse quickly. Steve Johanns's vision of an internet-like energy market would call for innovative finance methods. In addition, he warned, the era of big infrastructure projects is over – they are just too expensive and too risky.
At this point, Steve Johanns offered a solution: "We need to rethink what it means to build a big project. Instead of building one big power plant, we need to build thousands of small ones around the world. Micro-grid is the future." He painted a fascinating picture of innovative energy solutions for the developing world, which has a demand for conventional energy, and the developed world, which needs smart energy. Rehan Chaudhri told the audience about an intriguing new project to lay cables between Oman and Mumbai in order to supply India with solar energy from the Arabian Peninsula. Marten Roed advised that lucrative niche markets can emerge in unexpected places – at one point, his shipping company discovered that African states had a great demand for Norwegian stockfish. The audience added to the discussion by asking some thought-provoking questions. The attendees learned that innovative energy projects are most likely to succeed in the developing world, as opposed to when they have to compete with established energy systems in the developed world. The developed world would see evolution, while the developing world is set to experience a true energy revolution. Day Two at the Caspian Week conference is part of that gripping, ongoing story. Stay tuned!
The first conference at Caspian Week 2017 was Women: The Leaders of the Future! A panel of experts came together to discuss the empowerment of women through and in business.

Simona Scarpaleggia (IKEA, CEO Switzerland, Italy), Kim Azzarelli (Seneca Women, Founder, USA), Afsin Yurdakul (Haberturk, Turkey), Preeti Sinha (YES Bank, Senior President, India) and Özlem Denizmen (Doğuş Group, Strategist, Turkey Para Durumu, Founder) concluded that countries where women are educated become global economic powerhouses and that business in turn can help shape culture in favour of women. Together they delivered a compelling call for women to be the leaders of the future!