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…but remains committed to low carbon strategy
By Svetlana Marshall
President Irfaan Ali said Guyana will aggressively pursue oil and gas to propel economic transformation and diversification that will ultimately lead to sustainable growth and development to all Guyanese.
The Guyanese Head of State, at the time, was delivering the keynote address during the opening ceremony of the International Energy Conference and Expo at the Guyana Marriott Hotel on Tuesday, in the presence of the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; President of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi; and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley among other local, regional and international dignitaries.
Though Guyana’s petroleum resources in the Stabroek Block currently exceed10 billion oil-equivalent barrels, the President said the country’s energy plans remain consistent with its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) pathway.
“The multifaceted, wide-ranging development strategy of the country unlocks immeasurable opportunities; these opportunities lay the foundation upon which our future will be built supported by our geographic location and natural competitive advantages. That development strategy is built on a low carbon development strategy pathway,” he told the more than 500 delegates present.
The strategy aims at fostering economic sustainability, a diversified economy, investment in climate mitigation, adaptation, carbon credit, enhanced livelihood, biodiversity and ecosystem, and the country’s transition into a clean energy future.
Noting that the future framework of opportunities is being built around solar energy, hydropower, hydrocarbons, forest and hydrogen, President Ali explained that the integrated approach does not include only Guyana but its CARICOM, regional and even international partners. He said already, Guyana, Brazil and Suriname are exploring the development of a new energy corridor.
Together with US oil-giant ExxonMobil, the country is also working to develop a Natural Gas Strategy as part of its quest to aid in the realization of energy security in the region.
“We have already commenced the process by investing in 13 solar farms, three hydros, one large hydro at Amaila Falls and Natural Gas Project all aimed at increasing our power generation to 500 megawatts by 2025,” the President detailed.
He said the country will only be able to accelerate its developmental agenda, particularly in the industrial, manufacturing and commercial sectors, if it tackles head on the high cost of energy.
“We will remain uncompetitive if we cannot address the cost of energy. We must address the cost of energy. Our private sector will not be able to grow if we cannot bring down the cost of energy,” he reasoned while assuring those present that Guyana will reduce the cost of energy by 50% by 2024.
President Ali said such a move will create the opportunity for the development of a world class manufacturing, industrial and agro processing sector, and significantly enhance the country’s competiveness on the global market.
Additionally, he said the country is committed to reducing its dependency on fossil fuel by 70% by 2027 and 90% by 2030.
He noted that while Guyana is now an oil producing state, it will attempt to strike a balance between its rapid economic development and the preservation and protection of the environment while bolstering human development growth.
“Our development trajectory, prioritises people centered development. We aspire to a Guyana which is free, prosperous, socially just, globally competitive, and which serve every citizen equitably. Guyanese must be afforded a good education, decent work, be able to start their own businesses, raise and provide for a family, own their own homes, live in a safe and security environment and retire with dignity,” President Ali said.
He said Guyanese must have access to comprehensive healthcare and world class education.
“The wealth from oil and gas will be used to achieve these objectives and broaden the economic platform that drives the current and future growth of our country. In this regard – agriculture, mining, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, information communication technology, manufacturing, tourism, education and health services are key sectors of focus.”
The Guyanese Head of State said Guyana is opened for investment, noting that in addition to its oil and gas resources, it has a wealth of other renewable and non-renewable resources, and remains a leader in the global community on climate change, ecosystems and biodiversity.
The country, he pointed out, has bountiful flora and fauna and 18.3 million hectares of forest which cover 87% of the country’s land area.
The forest is storing approximately 19.5 gigatons of carbon worth about $US195B. It was noted that the Forestry Sector has an estimated value of US$500B, and offers tremendous opportunities for value added. Additionally, it has a deforestation rate of less than 0.05%.
“We can sustainably harvest 1 million cubic meters per year, at present we harvest 400,000 cubic meters, valued at US$80M per year,” President Ali pointed out.
He added: “The sector presents opportunities for large-scale down-stream processing, prefab houses, prime value added species for niche market, partnering on environmental services, reforestation programmes and forest plantation, all linked to new emerging and potential markets.”
With its natural characteristics, the President said, Guyana also present the opportunity for investors to tackle global food security as opportunities in agriculture are vast.