President of Guyana Dr Irfaan Ali is luring Jamaican and regional manufacturing companies to expand their operations to the fast-growing South American country, where energy costs will be much cheaper.
Speaking yesterday (January 26) on the culmination of the three-day Jamaica Stock Exchange’s (JSE) 18th Regional Investments and Capital Markets Conference, President Ali sought to lure manufacturers to Guyana; as with the forthcoming Wales Gas-to-Energy project promising to slash energy costs in Guyana by half, his country can be the new destination for manufacturing companies seeking to expand.
“Cutting energy consumption by 50 per cent will place Guyana in a competitive pace for manufacturing and industrial development, Ali said, adding, “already, we are marketing Guyana as the premier destination for industrial and manufacturing expansion and development.”
He said his government is seeking to expand multiple sectors instead of focusing on oil and gas.
As such, the manufacturing and industrial development sectors, Ali declared will be a prominent part of Guyana’s diversification plans, owing to the lower cost of energy. He called on regional investors to capitalise on the opportunity and encouraged regional manufacturers to consider Guyana as a new place they can expand their operations.
Beefing up human resource capacity
The Guyanese president noted that to attain this objective, the country is now ramping up its human resource capacity with technical and skills training to meet the growing needs.
“To this end, Guyana is developing a state-of-the-art world-class technical education centre in one of the regions of Guyana, an investment of more than US$100 million that will not only serve to develop the skill and the skill set required for the oil and gas sector but will also develop the skills set for every other sector,” Dr Ali said.
Referencing the construction of a new hospitality institute in Guyana that will create the opportunity to train more than six thousand Guyanese nationals, who will be needed for several new hotels that are coming on stream by 2025.
“We are also building six new regional hospitals and we have four speciality hospitals that are under construction at various stages by the private sector to provide world-class health care service and our entire health care service will be built on a technological platform,” he told the large audience at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
According to Dr Ali, “this is an important investment for us; transforming the educational sector to become a major educational provide a hub that can earn foreign currency. The transformation of our healthcare sector to make it a major regional health hub for health tourism, health services, [and] earning foreign currency. Promoting private sector investments.”
He stated that these are two planks on which the future economy will also be built. However, to achieve Guyana is currently building four ‘Level 5’ hospitals.
President Ali admitted that currently there are many gaps in Guyana’s labour market, resulting in the importation of skilled labour, emphasising that those gaps are being addressed by the investment in education and skills training, which he earlier articulated.
Wooing Jamaica businesses
He made the point that some Jamaican companies are already interested in exploring opportunities—which he says is in tandem with the Jamaican trade mission now in Guyana discussing closer business ties. The Guyanese president talked up his country’s diversification plans, which are seeking to push the economy beyond oil and gas.
Richard Coe, vice-president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), who is among Jamaica’s high-level delegates now on a trade mission there indicated that there is considerable interest in Guyana. Coe, managing director of Fleetwood Jamaica Limited, believes there is scope for the company to establish manufacturing operations in Guyana.