THE RIGHT MEASURES

Colombia 2014 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Luis María Ruiz del Portal Lázaro, General Director of AYESA Colombia, on his outlook for the Colombian economy, and growth prospects in Latin America.

In 2013, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría formally launched Colombia's accession process with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, and Colombia has surpassed Mexico in FDI receipts, ranking solely behind Brazil and Chile. In this light, what is the outlook for the Colombian economy?

Our perception is that Colombia will continue to increase FDI over the coming years if it continues to focus on two of the pillars that attract it, namely improved infrastructure and a modernized public administration. It is also crucial for growth to maintain both government transparency and take measures to ensure public security. Regarding the OECD's invitation, it confirms Colombia is advancing in the right direction. Foreign investment has helped change the world's perception of the country, which is the first step toward generating confidence among international markets. Furthermore, Colombia is playing a key role in the Pacific Alliance, an interesting and dynamic Latin American integration process, which was officially launched as a trading group in June 2012 at a presidential summit in Chile. It currently brings together Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, and is set to include Costa Rica, Panama, and Guatemala in due course. AYESA has headquarters and strategic projects in all Pacific Alliance member states. At AYESA, we perceive this opportunity as a testing ground for key projects that can be replicated throughout all current member nations of the alliance and those that may join in the future.

From its subsidiary in Bogotá, AYESA provides coverage in areas such as civil engineering, water and environmental engineering, oil and gas engineering, and telecommunications consulting. How has AYESA been consolidating its leading position in engineering consultancy?

Public entities are being modernized and the government is supporting this modernization, providing the necessary legislation. Compared to other local and foreign companies, AYESA provides tools that already incorporate much of the requirements of this new legislation, and is well-versed in the necessary steps an organization must take to adapt, and perhaps more importantly, those to be avoided. This experience is embodied in the strategic projects that we are developing in Latin America and in the references of satisfied clients. We have found that this combination is highly appreciated by our customers in Latin America, and look forward to contributing our know-how to this modernization process.

“Public entities are being modernized and the government is supporting this modernization."

The Bogotá Capital District government awarded AYESA a contract for the auditing of advanced basic engineering studies of the city's first subway line. What does AYESA's advice entail?

AYESA audited the technical design for Line 1 of Bogotá's underground metropolitan railway, which consists of overseeing, coordinating, and ultimately controlling the project for the contracting entity. Having accumulated invaluable experience in design, construction, and the auditing of subway lines in cities as diverse as Seville, Barcelona, Malaga, New Delhi, Warsaw, and Mexico City, we are supremely positioned to implement such schemes. We were also selected by the government of Panama to oversee the design, construction, and commissioning of Line 1 of Panama City's metro system. This project allows us to present a more dynamic profile of AYESA, where we combine the services offered by our civil engineering wing with those of our technology wing; this is probably our definitive differentiator from our competitors. Few companies can offer a turnkey product if they lack strength in these two areas. This added value is what has made project implementation possible within such a short space of time.

In Panama you are participating in the implementation of a new integrated system of Government Resource Planning (PRG) for the national government, one of the biggest World Bank projects in Latin America. What are AYESA's prospects for growth in Latin America and your priority markets?

AYESA has been present in Latin America for over a decade, with operations in Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Brazil, and we are conducting market research in at least three other countries. The company's unequivocal focus on Latin America is to achieve sustainable growth, following the method introduced by the founding Manzanares family, and specifically based on solvency, debt avoidance, and an approach that underpins our operations in over 30 countries across four continents.

© The Business Year - June 2014