PRESIDENT, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, led a high-level delegation to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to showcase Guyana at the Guyana National Day event at EXPO 2020. The event, from all indications, was spectacular and put Guyana once again in the international spotlight.
It is significant that the event is being held in the United Arab Emirates, one of the countries that have emerged from a little known Middle Eastern country to one of the world’s richest destination. Just a few decades ago, the country was nothing but a desert. Today, the country has advanced to a point where it has to import workers as the available manpower proved inadequate to meet the demands of a robust and modern economy.
How did a small, sleepy nation-state, like the UAE, rose so rapidly to the status of an economic powerhouse in the region and beyond? The answer is not exactly straightforward but a lot of it has to do with the discovery of oil and the resultant massive flow of petro-dollars into the Emirates. It was, however, not until the 1990s that the UAE really began to capture the attention of the world with its several mega-projects which included the Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest artificial island, the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building and the vast Dubailand, intended to become the world’s largest park and leisure attraction. The objective was to become a leading global centre for tourism, transport and business.
Guyana, as a country can learn much from the United Arab Emirates in terms of how to accelerate the transformation processes currently underway, and even though we are still a long way before we reach the status of a super-rich country, the indications are already there that the country is on the cusp of far-reaching transformation that could catapult us to a new era of growth and prosperity unknown in our part of the world.
It does not follow, however, that as a country we have to copy-cat the experiences of other oil-rich nations, but we certainly can learn from the best-practices and the mistakes of other oil producing countries. The fact is that each country has its own history, culture, values and aspirations but, in the final analysis, it is the extent to which resources are converted to wealth that constitute key determinants regarding the quality of life of its citizens.
For a long time we have been schooled into believing that we are a rich country. We have been reminded so often how blessed we are as a country. Now, it seems, is our moment of truth. The country is about to realise its true developmental potential, thanks largely to our newly found carbon riches.
President, Dr. Irfaan Ali and his team have already made a significant impression on investors from the Middle East and other countries who have indicated an interest in Guyana as an investment destination. He has certainly made the case for investors to come and invest in the country, not only in the emerging oil and gas sector but in other areas such as agriculture, mining, tourism and ICT, among others.
From all indications, his message is well received. A US$5M agreement was already inked between a Guyanese-based engineering, procurement and construction firm– Global Infrastructure Solutions Guyana Inc. — and Emirati-owned Undiome Global DWC LLC. The investment will develop a 20,000 square foot manufacturing facility intended to produce biaxial voided slab technology, the first of its kind in Guyana and will contribute significantly to the construction sector in Guyana. This is in addition to the several other major investments currently underway.
As pointed out by President Ali, Guyana has all the ingredients for business to flourish. The economy is market-driven with juicy incentives to investors. The country is law-governed and the physical and social infrastructure is being modernised to cater for the needs of an expanding economy. No less significant is the fact of our human resources which are being upgraded to provide the right mix of skills to man the needs of industry and commerce.
Even as the country welcomes foreign investors, our local private sector has also risen admirably to the developmental challenges of the country. Foreign investors in particular have been greatly assisted by organisations such as the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) which, along with the local Chambers of Commerce and the government’s investment arm Go-invest, have all played important facilitating roles.
It is, however, the visionary and forward-looking approach by President Ali and his PPP/C administration that must be credited for the new and changing trajectory of the economy. According to President Ali, ‘Guyana is poised to become a leading oil and gas producer, an energy powerhouse, a bastion of food security, a prime destination for sustainable tourism and a regional information and communication technology hub’. This, however, will require significant investments which the PPP/C administration welcomes with open arms.
Guyana has what it takes to advance this country of ours to greatness. It is rich in natural and mineral resources, fertile land and, above all, a resourceful and hospitable people. Investor confidence in the country has never been better.
As a country we have turned the corner and is now well-positioned to take our place as a land of prosperity and new opportunities for all.