by STAFF WRITER
February 15, 2022
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 15, CMC –A four-day international energy conference and exposition began here on Tuesday with President Dr. irfaan Ali underscoring the need for Guyana to develop cheaper sources of energy so as to ensure the socio-economic development of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.
“Let me be clear on this, we will remain uncompetitive if we cannot address the cost of energy. We must address the cost of energy,” President Ali, said as delivered the feature address at the event that is also being attended by his CARICOM colleagues, Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Mottley as well as Suriname’s President Chandrikapersad Santokhi.
“Our private sector will not be able to grow if we cannot bring down the cost of energy and we will bring down the cost of energy by 50 per cent by 2024,” Ali said, adding in order to do so, Guyana must make strategic investments.
“Bringing down the cost of energy is not only about bringing in a pipeline or doing a hydro project or building solar energy. That is far from it. Bringing down the cost of energy is about creating the space and opportunity for the development of a world class manufacturing, industrial and agro-processing sector.
“That is how benefits come to the people, that is how benefits come to the country when we can invest and create the opportunities to improve competitiveness and expand business opportunity and there shall be no turning back from this energy agenda in realising these opportunities,” Ali said.
The Guyana Head of State said his country is already exploring the development of a new energy corridor “so that with Suriname and Guyana we can effectively realise the importance of our strategic position in creating regional energy security.
“We have already commenced the process by investing in 13 new solar farms, three mini hydros, one large hydro…and natural gas project all aimed at increasing our power generation to 500 megawatts by 2025.”
He said Guyana will be able to diversify its economy with the effective use of funds from the oil and gas sector.
He said also that Guyana has an open-door policy as it relates to investors, but that these investments must ensure the country and its population benefit.
He said his administration would also be encouraging discussions with “our neighbours to develop a pathway in which energy would become a major export earner for the countries and this is a path we are not deviating from.
“Locally we have committed to reducing our dependency on fossil fuel by 70 per cent by the year 2027 and 90 per cent by the year 2030. We are not shying away from our global responsibility. We have made these commitments and we intend to keep them,” he told the conference that is also being attended by Ghana’s President Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Ali said that while Guyana is now being regarded as an oil producing state its focus is fuel primarily on the long term sources of energy.
“Our development trajectory attempts to strike a balance between rapid economic development and the preservation and protection of our environment. Guyana is also bolstering growth with human development,” he said, adding “nothing is possible without understanding the importance of human development.
‘Our development trajectory characterises people centered development,” he said, aspiring for a Guyana which is free, prosperous, socially just, and globally competitive and which serves every citizen equitably.
In his address, President Ali said that Guyana would continue pursuing a renewable energy mix of natural gas, solar, wind and hydro.
“Believe it or not, it is the utmost priority on the agenda of the government of Guyana,” he said, noting that the implementation of the country’s decades-old Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which was recently updated will ensure that energy plans are consistent.
He told the conference that Guyana will remain strong on climate change but will not shy away from pursuing a development path of oil and gas.
“I want to state directly the narrative so there will be no need for interpretation. We are pursuing this path and we take the responsibility…(and) we will continue to find space and place to bring global solutions.”
Ali spoke of Guyana’s global leadership in climate change, eco-systems and biodiversity, noting that the country presents 18.3 million hectares of standing forests which stores 19.5 gigatons of carbons worth conservatively US$195 billion.
Deforestation currently stands at 0.05%, allowing the country to harvest one million cubic meters a year but only 400,000 is being harvested at present.
“This has always been. We never had capital or resources to build the Guyana we always spoke of… today with hard work, simplicity and humility we have the ability to make that giant leap for Guyana and all of humanity,” President Ali added.