–President Ali says Guyana’s election-stained image has been repaired
NOW that Guyana’s international profile has “risen tremendously,” the country is gearing up to accommodate an influx of world leaders and international business moguls seeking to strengthen bilateral relations and conduct physical evaluations of potential investment opportunities.
This is according to President Dr. Irfaan Ali, who informed a news conference on Friday that within the coming weeks, the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, will be arriving with his high-level delegation to advance bilateral talks.
The confirmation of President Kenyatta’s visit comes just weeks after he spearheaded a landmark summit, which sought to revive relations between the continent of Africa and member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Meanwhile, President Ali, who is currently spearheading his own high-level delegation to the 76th United Nations’ General Assembly, said that Guyana has been an area of “high focus” for many countries, private sector groups, and major financial institutions.
The Head of State related that over the past week, on the sidelines of the Assembly, he and his team were able to engage a number of world leaders on the opportunities available in Guyana and that the response has since been “enormous.”
“Our country is playing on a different stage. Our country is getting a different level of attention. Our country is being focused on, and as leaders, we have to ensure that we give clear clarity as to where the country is going; strong leadership is required,” Dr. Ali said, adding, “We still have a lot of requests for meetings.”
He told reporters that out of the “sideline” engagements alone, approximately seven other delegations have given their commitments to visit.
“We also had very, very good meetings with various representatives of the Middle East; from Prime Ministers to Prince and so on, and they too are working on delegations to come to Guyana, and for us to have a further engagement with them in a wide cross section of economic opportunities,” Dr. Ali related.
He said too that the evaluations of available opportunities will not be limited to the country’s burgeoning oil and gas sector.
The Head of State admitted that even though Guyana’s petroleum prospects have been initially capturing the interest of investors, many were intrigued about other areas of investments, once properly apprised.
“We have spoken to many of these sophisticated investors about the opportunities in food security, agriculture, the services industry, manufacturing, and of course, the diversification of our energy sector,” Dr. Ali posited.
The President said that even though investors are eager to come to Guyana now, that had not been the initial case, since many groups had concerns related to Guyana’s democratic stability.
“This is a key question from all those who we engaged; they want to know that the country is built on a foundation of democracy, stability [and] the rule of law,” Dr. Ali related.
Those concerns could be attributed to the country’s protracted elections debacle, which featured a purported attempt to thwart the outcome of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
“From all our engagements, it is clear that persons were following the five months, and of course, it raises questions in terms of the sustainability of a country, when you have democracy threatened the way it was threatened,” Dr. Ali related.
Fortunately, President Ali said that his team, which also comprised Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, was successful in reassuring the potential investors and leaders of Guyana’s commitment to democracy.
To this end, he said: “We had to repair a lot of damage; we had to answer a lot of questions in relation to that [the threat on democracy], but we are very happy that we had the opportunity to do so, and we are able to present Guyana as a strong, emerging market, not only for oil and gas, but for the various opportunities that are coming ahead.”
In addition to the delegations coming to Guyana, international partners will also be facilitating visits from Guyanese officials. President Ali made specific reference to an October visit to West Africa, which will see Vice-President Jagdeo leading a team to Ghana.
The proposed visit stems from a discussion between President Ali and the Ghanian President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The discussions were centred on several matters of mutual interest, including oil and gas, climate change and the environment, as well as capacity building, and training.
Dr. Ali has also had engagements with the Presidents of Austria, Kosovo, Ghana, Colombia and the Maldives, which he said, contributed to the rekindling of relations with those countries.
The Guyanese Head of State also met with the Prime Minister of Kuwait and the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, along with the Heads of a number of global bodies, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
President Ali had said that increased interest in Guyana also coincides with increased expectations.
“More is expected of us globally on issues of climate change, energy security, renewable energy; these are all issues that the world is looking for us to provide leadership [on],” Dr. Ali said previously.
He had maintained too, that Guyana is prepared to take up the challenge of being a global leader on this front.