-says President Ali
PRESIDENT Dr. Irfaan Ali’s concept for a secondary city has captured the attention of international investors. So much so that the Head of State and his high-level delegation attending the 76th United Nations General Assembly were even presented with a conceptual design of what the new city could possibly look like, and what it could entail.
Dr. Ali informed a virtual press conference hosted from New York on Friday last that investors are “hungry to invest in the new city.”
“Sometimes in Guyana, when I speak about the new city you get the impression from the media that this is a fairy-tale land,” President Ali reflected. He said that even though the city has not yet come to life, its potential has not evaded the attention of international players.
The concept of “Silica City” was first introduced in 2013 by President Ali, while he held the position of Minister of Housing during the previous tenure of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic government.
The secondary city was projected to be developed along the Soesdyke/Linden Highway. During the hosting of one of its iconic Building Expos, then Minister Ali went as far as to urge all potential investors, bankers, buyers and sellers to register with Silica City.
As an incentive to entice potential homeowners, Ali had announced that all those who had received their acknowledgment letters for house lots, and are willing to accept a house lot along the highway at Silica City, would have had their applications “processed immediately.”
Fast-forward to 2021, a now President Ali remains adamant that ‘Silica City’ is the avenue to ensure sustainable housing and urbanisation in Guyana. As a matter of fact, on the eve of Guyana’s 55th Independence Anniversary, Dr. Ali reiterated his intentions for the new city.
“We need to build new communities further [sic] inland to spread our population…reduce prices for land and housing and cease traffic congestion. We must use the land space with which we have been blessed to create new and improved living conditions, new areas of growth and development and new population centres,” Dr. Ali told the gathering at the Umana Yana.
President Ali has said too that modernisation of the entire East Bank Demerara corridor and the creation of alternative road links, including a massive highway to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, will all feed into the success of the secondary city.
This week, on an international stage, the President expressed satisfaction that his plans to transform Guyana has captured the attention of many. “That is the excitement that is coming to Guyana, and that is the energy that is coming to us, that we have to transform in our thinking and the way we operate locally,” the President said at his Friday press engagement.
He had previously explained that based on feedback from a number of world leaders, investors and other global stakeholders, Guyana’s international profile has “risen tremendously,” to the extent where the country would be 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 here.
Currently, Dr. Ali said that “our country is playing on a different stage” and getting “a different level of attention.”
The Head of State admitted that even though Guyana’s petroleum prospects are what 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,” President Ali said.
He explained that based on the enormity of positive feedback being received from international partners, his delegation has had to work hard to ‘tame’ the interest of a myriad of sophisticated investors.
“If you give them a chance…they will finance everything. They want to do everything that we have to offer. They want to finance all the public sector projects; they want to finance all the private sector projects,” Dr. Ali disclosed.
He said that throughout the week-long engagements on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, he had to re-emphasise the point of local content, which will remain paramount to Guyana’s impending transformational development.
“We have to take the expectation, and make a point to them that there is certain carve out for locals, and the type of investments that we want to see must include locals; it must have a local content component,” Dr. Ali stressed.
He said that his team was also keen on encouraging potential investors to seek partnership with Guyanese businesses and members of the private sector.
“What we have seen from the interest in Guyana is that if they get an opportunity, they will suck up the entire market overnight; from financing projects, housing and construction, and the new city,” President Ali said.
Despite having to ration its foreign investments, President Ali is pleased that Guyana now has a plethora of options.