Türkiye’s ONUR GROUP plans to double its $500 million investment in Ukraine by 2030
About the interviewee: Emre Karaahmetoglu is the General Coordinator of ONUR GROUP Ukraine

What impact did the full-scale invasion have on Onur Group’s plans for infrastructure projects in Ukraine?

Unfortunately, the invasion had a very significant impact on our plans in Ukraine, with work stopping on around 90% of existing projects. Prior to this, we had been one of the key contractors for President Zelenskyy’s Big Construction program. In a relatively short period of around two-and-a-half years, thousands of kilometers of roads had been built. We had also taken on some of the most important infrastructure projects in the history of independent Ukraine, including a major bridge across the Dnipro river at Zaporizhzhia and the redevelopment of Dnipro International Airport. We were unable to complete these projects and now hope to finish them after the war.

At the time of the invasion, we were engaged in projects in 14 different regions of Ukraine, including production facilities and construction sites. Overall, our workforce totaled around 10,000 employees. In the Luhansk region and Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, we had asphalt and concrete production facilities, along with a variety of equipment. Once the invasion began, these facilities and equipment remained in areas that fell under Russian occupation.

What role is Onur Group currently playing in efforts to repair war damage across Ukraine and in areas liberated from Russian occupation?

We are involved in the reconstruction of some of the bridges destroyed during the war in the Kyiv and Kharkiv regions. After the liberation of the Kharkiv region from Russian occupation, we were among the first construction companies to arrive and were able to rapidly repair approximately 120 kilometers of roads, enabling both military vehicles and wounded soldiers to reach hospitals from the front lines as quickly and comfortably as possible. Similarly, after the liberation of Kherson in southern Ukraine, we sent our teams there to facilitate the rapid repair of roads and bridges.

Ambitious plans are already taking shape for the recovery and rebuilding of Ukraine. How can Onur Group contribute to this process?

Onur Group has continued to operate in Ukraine since the start of the invasion. Although the current volume of work is significantly less than before the war, we still have approximately 4000 employees. We also maintain about 4500 pieces of equipment in a state of readiness to start new projects. Additionally, we are in contact with many international organizations and companies. Discussions continue regarding Ukraine’s most urgent wartime infrastructure needs, as well as the country’s postwar requirements.

With future cooperation in mind, we have signed memorandums of understanding with companies including Samsung, and are looking to expand our partnerships. With our personnel, equipment, and 20 years of experience in Ukraine, we are ideally placed to contribute to priority infrastructure projects after the war, with the support of major companies and financial institutions from countries such as Japan and South Korea.

In addition to construction projects, we continue to develop a wide range of investments initiated before the war, and have even provided additional financing for new investment projects as we seek to contribute to the Ukrainian wartime economy and create employment. Onur Group has invested more than USD 500 million in Ukraine to date, with plans to invest a further half billion by 2030. The company currently operates in 13 different business sectors including construction, engineering, energy, quarries and mining, agriculture, production, real estate, and more. We view our Ukrainian investments as a long-term strategy focused on improving the country’s economy, creating new jobs, and strengthening the investment climate.

We place an emphasis on corporate social responsibility, particularly providing humanitarian support to the Ukrainian military, hospitals, and the civilian population. So far, the company has contributed more than USD 8 million in support of Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion.

Which Ukrainian infrastructure projects is Onur Group currently engaged in?

One of our most high-profile recent reconstruction projects was Irpin Bridge in the Kyiv region, which was completed in November 2023 after being partially destroyed during the first weeks of the invasion. In the Lviv and Zhytomyr regions, we continue working to repair and improve electricity infrastructure damaged by Russian air strikes. We are also engaged in road maintenance projects in the Kyiv, Lviv, Zhytomyr, and Zaporizhzhia regions.

How has Onur Group adapted its personnel policies to the challenges of a wartime economy?

Ukraine is at war and the conflict is ongoing, with martial law in place and mobilization being rigorously enforced. Naturally, this has had an impact on us. Like many other sectors of the economy, we are facing personnel challenges in our industry. At the same time, all our projects are in collaboration with the Ukrainian authorities, and the work we do aligns with the the country’s most urgent needs and priorities. When it comes to key personnel, we follow the procedures outlined in martial law legislation, file the necessary applications at the local and national levels, and are generally able to obtain exemption permits for essential personnel. It is important to underline that such exemptions only apply to a very limited number of employees.

In addition to major infrastructure projects, Onur Group is active in a number of sectors of the Ukrainian economy including energy and construction. What are the Group’s current priorities in the energy sector?

In 2020 and 2021, we invested in power plants with an capacity of 150 MW. These plants are now operational. This year, we invested in an additional 120 MW wind power plant project in the Zakarpattia region in collaboration with another Turkish company, Güriş. We plan to begin work in 2024 on new solar power plant projects with a total capacity of 80 MW. Our overall target is to reach more than 320 MW in renewable energy investments by the end of 2024.

What is your vision for the future of Onur Group in Ukraine?

We have been operating in Ukraine for 20 years. Throughout this period, we have experienced numerous upheavals, revolutions, and crises. Ukraine is currently going through the toughest days in its independent history following Russia’s full-scale invasion. Despite these challenges, we have never lost our belief in Ukraine. That’s why we are still here, and why we continue to invest even in the midst of the war.

I am confident Onur Group will be one of the major contributors to Ukraine’s postwar infrastructure upgrade and economic recovery. Ukraine is a vast country with rich resources that have yet to be fully utilized. With the right planning and effective strategy, we aim to make a significant contribution to Ukraine’s postwar revival. We will continue to invest in a variety of different sectors, just as we do now, and will grow together with Ukraine.

Our investment strategy is based on extensive experience gained through our activities in Ukraine since 2004. Our long-term presence and proven effectiveness on the Ukrainian market stand as testament to the resilience of our investments. This allows us to better understand both local needs and local opportunities.

By investing in Ukraine, we aim to support and stimulate the local economy. Our investments also reflect our commitment to corporate social responsibility and our role as a responsible partner seeking to safeguard the stability and development of the regions where we are active. For some, investing in today’s Ukraine might seem like a big risk. Our investment reflects our belief in victory and our long-term contribution to the country’s economic growth.

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