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Albania's Renewables, Start-Ups, and Gaming Revival: A Buzz Interview with Anisa Rrumbullaku of CR Partners

Albania's Renewables, Start-Ups, and Gaming Revival: A Buzz Interview with Anisa Rrumbullaku of CR Partners

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In Albania, renewable energy, start-ups, and gaming all present significant market opportunities according to Partner Anisa Rrumbullaku of CR Partners in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners, with significant changes being implemented that stand to not only revitalize the economy but also create a hotbed for legal expertise.

"The renewable energy sector in Albania is continuing to experience a dynamic and active period," Rrumbullaku begins. "There's a consistent increase in interest from various stakeholders including investors, developers, and lenders. Major law firms in Albania are continuously involved in this sector due to the influx of projects, especially in wind and solar energy," she says. According to her, this shift is poised to "diversify Albania’s energy portfolio, traditionally dependent on hydroelectric power, and underscores the country's commitment to renewable energy."

Focusing on specific novelties in the area, Rrumbullaku says "there have been notable developments, particularly for solar and wind. The Ministry of Energy recently launched a 300-megawatt solar PV auction, with the deadline for bids set for May 17, 2024. This initiative has sparked considerable interest from local and foreign investors, highlighting the opportunities available for developing successful projects," she reports. Together with "the previous two successful solar PV auctions and one wind auction, they have signaled a robust and growing interest in Albania's renewable capabilities."

Shifting the focus to the evolving start-up ecosystem, Rrumbullaku says that it is gaining momentum. "This is driven by increased access to technology and a growing entrepreneurial culture among the youth. However, challenges such as market size and brain drain have historically hindered progress. Recently, there have been positive changes including amendments to the Law on Start-ups in May 2023 and the establishment of a governmental start-up agency," she reports. In addition, a "significant ALL 300 million grant program was just launched, creating a supportive climate for innovation – this presents many new opportunities for legal professionals to assist these emerging businesses, particularly in areas like legal structuring, fundraising, and IPR protection," she believes.

Furthermore, Rrumbullaku shares that the "gaming industry in Albania is also seeing transformative changes. The gambling law was recently amended and implemented in early April, marking the return of permissible sports betting, but only in an online format. This law reopens the gambling market in Albania, which had been completely banned since 2018," she shares. As she reports, "the government will award a total of ten licenses with stringent criteria; for example, applying companies or their shareholders must prove operation in at least three EU/OECD countries in the last three years and must have generated at least ALL 2 billion from the gaming industry alone in the last year." Rrumbullaku stresses that this development seems to have attracted a lot of interest from gaming companies seeking to navigate the licensing process, "indicating a revival and potentially rapid growth in Albania’s gaming sector once the competition process for the online betting license officially kicks off."

Finally, she highlights "these developments across renewable energy, start-ups, and gaming create numerous opportunities for legal professionals. In the renewable sector, the continuous stream of projects necessitates legal expertise in negotiations, regulatory compliance, and financing transactions," she explains. And for start-ups, "legal needs span from establishing proper corporate structures to handling intricate granting and investment rounds. Meanwhile, in the gaming industry, impending new regulations and licensing requirements will likely demand thorough legal scrutiny and representation," Rrumbullaku concludes.

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