Our prospect for developing into a highly industrialised state is closely linked with the question of energy supplies. The high and continually escalating price of oil is a serious problem. We should have therefore paid great attention some eighteen years ago to the possibility of using, as far as practicable, technology which would reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels.
The development of heavy industries, in particular, depends upon the availability of relatively cheap and abundant supply of energy. We have vast hydro-power potential if we could harness this potential but there is much talk and little action.
Our future as an industrialised country would be assured if we get the Amaila hydro project going. Some decades ago the previous government had identified the Upper Mazaruni as the best source of hydro-power for the country.
That government had a carefully prepared project to link the generation of hydro-power at Upper Mazaruni with the establishment of a smelter at Linden to produce aluminium.
That project fully accorded with the basic strategy of linking industries with our resources and processing our raw materials to higher stages.
The cost at that time for the hydro-power/smelter project was $2.5 billion.
It was considered an astronomical sum. But, given the extremely high cost of imported fuel today and the projections of continuing strong demand for aluminium for years to come it seems reasonable.
The Amaila hydro-plant can be entirely feasible if it was contracted out to the right company, the realisation of this project would bring Guyana, one leap, into the 21st century. The realisation of this project must be a dominant consideration informing and influencing our foreign policy initiatives.
The world’s energy needs are expected to double by 2030, a challenge that is further heightened by concerns about reducing CO2 emissions and the decreasing reserves and unprecedented costs for fossil fuels.
As business, government and science address these dynamic realities, continued economic growth hangs in the balance.