President tags IDB for ‘major’ renewable energy project

The Inter-American Dev-elopment Bank (IDB) is working with Guyana on the implementation of a major project on renewable energy which will see Guyana receiving about 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources, President Donald Ramotar has reiterated.

He made the comments during his address to the 6th Summit of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) on Wednesday in Mexico. While he did not identify the project, it is likely the Amaila Falls Hydroelectri-city Project (AFHP) which government had vowed to resuscitate after the developers walked away last year. In March, the president told reporters that the controversial AFHP is once again being examined by the IDB board and they would hopefully be wrapping up soon. He was also hopeful that the developers, Sithe Global, who withdrew, will be back on board.

“Although these are preliminary things I’m speaking about I don’t see that we have lost Sithe Global or that we have lost Blackstone as yet,” he had said. If these companies choose not to participate then alternatives will be sought but at the moment “we are not convinced that we’ve lost them,” the president said. In this year’s budget, US$80 million was listed as equity for the AFHP which is due to come from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund. Before US-based Sithe Global pulled out here last August as the developer of the US$858.2 million, 165-megawatt hydro venture, the AFHP was shrouded in controversy as costs escalated.

Ramotar told the ACS meeting that a lot has happened since the formation of the ACS but it is clear that there needs to be increased cooperation amongst states. “What is missing from the ACS is real progress in building the infrastructure of both air and maritime transportation. Transportation is important in helping to stimulate movement of goods and people and can take our region to a higher level of development,” the president said.

He expressed pleasure that COPA Airlines from Panama will shortly begin operating to Guyana and Conviasa from Venezuela and Inselair from Curacao already have regular flights to Guyana. “These new developments will go a far way in building the vision that we want for integration of the ACS,” he said.

With regard to energy, Ramotar pointed to remarks by the IDB president that generating electricity in ACS countries is very costly and said that this a major impediment that must be dealt with. He said that in this regard, Petrocaribe has made a major contribution to many countries in the Caribbean. The president added that the IDB is working with Guyana on the implementation of a major project on renewable energy. He also noted that Guyana has developed a low carbon development strategy which has gained some amount of international recognition.

On agriculture, Ramotar said that this is extremely important and mentioned the technical assistance being provided by Mexico to ACS countries in this area. With regard to natural disasters, a key theme of the ACS, the president said that he believes that the long term effects are not spoken about enough. For example, Guyana has seen the number of days available for land preparation and other attendant activities for sugar cane cultivation being reduced by a third, he said.

Earlier, Ramotar spoke of the work done in the region by the late Professor Norman Girvan and former Secretary General of the ACS and by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – “two giants of our region whose contribution will live on for a long while.”

The summit marked the twentieth anniversary of the ACS and Ramotar said that at the time when the idea of South-South cooperation was introduced, “the conditions appeared not to have been present to accommodate this initiative, but today we see that conditions have emerged to make the idea of a stronger South-South cooperation a reality.”

He noted that the ACS comprises almost half of the population of the Latin American and Caribbean region – some 200 million people and while the countries vary in size and levels of development, together, they are a major force.

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