Guyana is on a world stage; there is potential to promote and practise sustainable development (Day 3 of IECEG 2023)
The third day of the International Energy Conference and Expo Guyana 2023 began with presentations from the Honourable, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Anthony Phillips, Prime Minister of Guyana; the Honourable Dr. Ashni K. Singh, Minister of Finance (Guyana); Professor Harrie Vrendenberg from the University of Calgary (virtual); Dr. Mahender Sharma, CEO of the Guyana Energy Agency; and Isaac Solomon, Vice President of the Caribbean Development Bank.
The Prime Minister of Guyana started with a recap of the week’s discussions before elaborating on the areas of growth that Guyana has seen in a socioeconomic and financial context for the past few years. He stated that the non-oil sector has increased by 11.5%, and that the oil revenue has increased Guyana’s GDP by 6.2%. The Prime Minister stated that the demand for energy on a national and global level will increase and double in forthcoming decades, and as such, Guyana needs to balance that demand through the use of flexible and reliable energy sources. He mentioned that there is a governmental goal to reduce the cost of electricity in Guyana by 50%, and this is being done through the employment of hydropower, solar and wind energy sources throughout the country. The Prime Minister then recapped most of the initiatives that have been taken to work towards a more sustainable Guyana.
Minister Ashni Singh offered a very thorough statistical recap of Guyana’s economic state, with a few comments on factors that would have impacted Guyana’s economic state, such as COVID19 and the Russian war on Ukraine. He stated that there is an overdependence on particular economic sectors, and thus is it of high importance for the country to continue achieving a strong non-oil economic growth. The Minister also proudly stated that over the past three years, the Guyanese economy has tripled in size. Guyana was also said to hold the third largest reserves in Latin America and the Caribbean. Minister Singh explained the function of the Natural Resource Fund (NRF); where all revenue earned from this sector can be deposited and only withdrawn in accordance with a transparent formula that is easy to interpret and free of political discretion or judgement.
Professor Harrie Vredenberg joined the conference virtually and shared his presentation on the topic of energy transition. He discussed areas such as climate change, the perspectives of environmental activists, and steps that a nation making an energy transition should consider. The professor concluded his presentation by discussing a documentary film that he has produced on energy transition in the Caribbean islands of Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago.
Dr. Sharma from the Guyana Energy Agency provided a summary of the completed projects that the agency has worked on and those that are currently in the works, specifically the ones located in Region 9. There is a goal to make that area a renewable energy hub.
Isaac Solomon of the Caribbean Development Bank spoke of sustainability and the “resilience” required to boost the economies of Caribbean countries who produce renewable energy. He mentioned that energy security is currently a top priority, and that the main focus on the CDB’s energy sector strategy is to support the increased scale and pace of the transition across all member countries.
The fourth day of the Conference will be focused on the Youth Engagement Forum.