the appropriate mitigations and controls, the canal
project could have a net positive benefit on both
the environment and the social conditions in Nicaragua. By providing a steady source of income
for the local population, the construction of the
canal could help reduce economic reliance on the
destructive slash-and-burn agriculture practices
that are commonly used by farmers.
“The rate at which the clearing is increasing
means that doing nothing will mean the loss of all
the forests in southern Nicaragua within a decade
or so,” Mr. Wild says.
HKND Group hopes to bank on shipping traffic
that can’t fit through the Panama Canal, which is
completing an expansion that will double its capacity. The rapid construction of shipping freighters
that are too big even for the expanded Panama
Canal makes a strong business case
for the Nicaraguan project. HKND
Group believes the new canal will
ease poverty in the second-poorest
country in the Americas, estimating that the project will generate
50,000 jobs during construc-
tion and 200,000 jobs once it opens. Mr. Wild says
this type of megaproject could also have a trickle-
down effect that would boost those numbers.
He also says that while HKND Group and other
investors will provide project leadership and management, he expects they will rely on—and train—
locals to do the heavy lifting.
“A project as large as the canal will stimulate
local development in many sectors, not only in
the construction sector of the economy. Other
industries will receive spin-off from the increased
economic activity and the presence and spending
power of a large direct and indirect workforce,” he
says. “These include the food sector, hospitality and
accommodation, the financial sector, tourism and
leisure, property development and so on.” PM
Employees of China’s HKND Group and
the Nicaraguan government celebrate
the planned Nicaraguan canal in 2014.