His Excellency Dr. Irfaan Ali today said that Guyana has received “very aggressive interests” from investors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but was clear that these investments must include the local private sector, supported by strong local content policies from the Government.
The Head of State was at the time responding to a question during a press conference following Guyana’s National Day celebrations at Expo 2020 in Dubai.
President Ali pointed out that bilateral talks between the two states started before Expo 2020 Dubai and that he is looking forward to continued discussions.
The President lauded the UAE for having a very modern, technologically efficient system of development. He said that it has focused over the years on developing smart grids, one-card systems, health information management systems bolstered by the oil and gas sector.
He added that engagements in those areas have already started and that the two states are also discussing “in a very intense way” the sharing of experiences and how they will “twin” their approach to development, given Guyana’s potential.
President Ali also noted that now is an “excellent opportunity” for the UAE to look beyond its traditional areas of investments and explore Guyana and its surrounding environs to create a strategic alliance and partnership that will create new opportunities.
“I was speaking to some of the leaders, and I said listen, the UAE also would have to face challenges of food security. Let us see how Guyana can support your food security agenda and that of the Region; matching our resources, investment with land. And that is a type of visionary approach that we want to create moving forward.”
LOCAL PRIVATE SECTOR DRIVE
The Head of State emphasised that the opportunities for investment and development of the various sectors in Guyana must be “driven by the private sector, supported by strong policies from the Government”.
He said that this is why a large delegation featuring representatives from Guyana’s private sector was brought to the Expo.
“We are hoping that they will be matching with the other private sector operatives from the UAE and will be making connections and building partnerships to make use of the opportunities back home and to ensure that there is local content.”
In addition to the private sector representatives, heads of various governmental agencies and organisations were also part of the delegation. The President said this was done to enable the sharing of the vision of Guyana’s development and the opportunities available with stakeholders in the UAE.
SECOND-TO-NONE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES
“We have the greatest potential to supply all of the food requirements of the CARICOM region. We have large quantities of untapped freshwater. We sometimes focus on oil and gas, but freshwater is as important as oil and gas. When we speak about the future and about sustainable development, we have biodiversity and eco-services, second to none. We have mining opportunities, second to none. We have tourism opportunities, second to none. We have opportunities in the ICT sector because of our geographic location, second to none.”
The President said that the high cost of energy and inadequate infrastructure have historically prevented Guyana’s development from being “ballooned upwards” despite the country’s tremendous potential. However, he noted that the Government will ensure that significant changes are made with the incoming resources and international interests.
“Suddenly, we now have the potential of ensuring all of these sectors flourish with the lowest energy rate in the region, with the best renewable mix of energy and the most sophisticated and efficient transport infrastructure.”
The President explained that this positive change has resulted in discussions and planning for massive transformative projects like the gas-to-shore energy project, the hydroelectricity development authority project, the development of a new city, the development of a road connection between northern Brazil and Guyana, shore base facilities, deepwater facilities, and other larger projects.
He said that there is also tremendous interest in developing tourism and eco-services, as well as food sustainability in the agriculture sector.
Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for finance, the Honourable Dr Ashni Singh; Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, the Honourable Oneidge Waldron; Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, the Honourable Charles Ramson Jr and GO-Invest CEO, Dr Peter Ramsaroop also attended the press conference and delivered remarks.