Guyana: Where Opportunity Meets Willingness

30 May

In a day and age when mankind is striving hard to find peace and verdure with what they have made of the environment, Guyana is a country still resplendent with nature’s blessings and opportunities to explore.  Located on South America’s north Atlantic coast, it is a country that wants to traverse the path of development along with sustainability. Despite its small population, it is well aware of the many pitfalls that can appear on the path of untempered exploitation. So it is being cautious and treading the road to development with prudence with Good Governance as its guide.

The history of the relationship between India and Guyana can be traced back to its roots in their common ancestry within the British Empire.  However, over the course of time, paths diverged somewhat as the socio-political, economic and historic conditions endemic to these different parts of the world charted unique routes of development.  Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, however, the system of Indentureship, with its transplantation of People of Indian Origin to Guyana and the southern Caribbean, forged a shared bond that remains strong to this day.  Common early, membership of the Non-aligned movement and an enduring interest in South-South cooperation have further strengthened the two countries friendship over the years.

Guyana, this land of rich resources, is looking at development in fields as diverse as; sustainable forestry, mining for gold, bauxite, diamonds, gemstones, silicon, uranium & manganese, harnessing of solar energy and hydropower, cultivation of cash crops, rice, sugar & coconut, value added agriculture using preservation and canning and businesses in education and medical education.  For all this Guyanese will need to access and develop skill sets in sectors such as information and technology, environmental engineering, oil and natural gas engineering, solar energy, housing & infrastructure construction, sports, including cricket, banking and finance to name a few.

With regards to oil & gas, substantial new, deep water, off-shore deposits have recently be discovered by ExxonMobil and its partners.  Reserves are currently estimated at 2.8 billion barrels of oil and 5 trillion cu. ft. of associated gas.  Other companies exploring Guyanese waters are Repsol, Hess, Tullow Oil and CGX Energy Inc (a Canadian based company with Guyanese participation).

With its long established interest in sustainable development (‘The good Life in a Green Guyana’) Solar and Wind power schemes are being planned as Guyana is a solar rich territory with substantial renewable energy options.  For example, the Guyana Energy Authority is currently facilitating a foreign investor seeking to construct a wind farm at Good Hope, which is expected to have an installed capacity of 12 MW.  Guyana is also currently evaluating a major project to develop its significant but, as yet, unutilised hydroelectric potential for domestic electricity consumption.

Information Technology is another sector that is growing in Guyana. There is both domestic and foreign investment in call-centres and back-office processing operations. Many young women and men are employed in the ten BPO companies that are established here.

Abundant forest reserves and resources help both trade and the local construction industries by providing raw and sawn timber, plywood, molding and furniture products.  Exports amounted to over US$52 million in 2005.  Guyana is capable of filling most of CARICOM’s demand of 300 million board feet of tropical wood. Approximately 52 % of State Forests have been allocated to timber harvesting concessions based on area size and duration.  Some producers have won the FSC seal of approval for their sustainable forestry practices.

There is a growing value-added component of the local timber industry evident in the making of furniture (e.g. hardwood and wicker), plywood and veneers, molding and doors, parquet, floor tiles and other related products. Here lucrative opportunities exist for investors to develop businesses supplying niche, high-value markets.  The Forest Products Association and Iwokrama (the 1 million acre sustainable development living reserve donated to the Commonwealth) aim to promote tropical forestry in an ecologically sustainable way.

At its core, the Guyanese economy is based on agriculture and agriculture exports. About 80 percent of 2015 agricultural exports consisted of rice or sugar products which processed goods, fresh fruit and vegetable exports augmented.  CARICOM, a 15 country regional common market protected by common external tariffs, is an important market for Guyanese sugar and other agricultural products. Like sugar, Guyana exports rice primarily to Europe and the CARICOM region.

(Sourced from The Indian Express– May 26, 2017)

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