–urges local businesses to position themselves to reap benefits
PRESIDENT Dr Irfaan Ali has reaffirmed that ‘Silica City,’ a secondary city slated for the Soesdyke-Linden Highway which will help to relieve the burden from an overpopulated Georgetown, “is going to happen” and has urged local entrepreneurs to align themselves to play a role in the development of the project.
Silica City is the brainchild of President Ali, who, in 2013 while he held the position of Minister of Housing and Water during the tenure of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government, had proposed its establishment.
“Silica City is going to happen; I’m telling you it’s going to happen and the opportunities which will come with Silica City will be mind-blowing. We are oversubscribed with investors who want to come in and build Silica City, oversubscribed,” President Ali said in his keynote address on Friday at the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association’s (GMSA) 26th Annual Presentation of Awards Ceremony, at the Ramada Princess Hotel at Providence, East Bank Demerara.
Against this backdrop, the Head of State urged local businesses to position themselves to benefit from the “mind-blowing” opportunities which will flow from the project by forming partnerships and consortiums to help with development of the project.
“We have a golf course as part of Silica City. Why 100 of you can’t come to us and say we want to do the golf course?” the Head of State asked, while urging the entrepreneurs to pool their resources together and shy away from seeing each other only as competitors, to build the capacity necessary for major projects.
“If we have 25 small and medium-sized machining shops that could come together and bring their resources together and create one large machining shop that could take the jobs that big industries are taking… [then] that immediately takes the country on another scale,” President Ali said.
“Yes, the family businesses are good, but time is changing; circumstances are changing, and if 10 small businesses can come together and take away 30 per cent share in that market, aren’t they better off? There is better competitive advantage,” he added.
Meanwhile, the President on Saturday highlighted the need for investment in this new city with three investors from Mexico and their Guyanese partner. The meeting at the Office of the President involved several Ministers of Government and other key government officials; it also saw pitches by the investors in areas such as housing, road and hospital construction and oil and gas.
The investors made presentations on large-scale housing projects and small prefab hospitals. The investors, led by the Chief Executive Officer of Grupo Industrial Omega, Andres Holzer, also highlighted several other areas of interest, including an oil refinery and a new terminal at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
The President listened to all the ideas, discussed their possibilities and then spoke about his government’s plan to develop Guyana’s secondary city—Silica City.
Guyana currently has one city, Georgetown, which is the centre of economic activities. However, the latest report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has noted that Georgetown could be under water by 2030.
With Guyana slated for massive growth and development as a result of its burgeoning oil and gas sector and other productive sectors, local authorities have been urging existing and potential stakeholders to look at investment opportunities outside of Georgetown, so as to ensure that advancement is widespread.
“Major developments are not for the capital city alone. We wish to see major developments in every region of the country and within these regions development must be widespread and across the board,” the Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond said at the sod-turning exercise for a Hyatt Place Hotel at Providence, East Bank Demerara, in November, 2021.