A Korean trade delegation including investors from the United States is currently visiting Guyana and has expressed strong interest in partnerships with both the government and local private sector on a range of development projects for which financing is readily available.
Among the touted investments on the public side is the development of Guyana’s first smart city – Silica City – a brainchild of President Irfaan Ali.
And proposals for private sector partnerships ranged from world-class housing developments and other infrastructure such as new schools, hospitals, roads and bridges; the generation of green, cheap and reliable energy; improving water quality and training and practicing smart agriculture among others.
During an engagement at the Arthur Chung Conference Center (ACCC) on Wednesday with senior government functionaries led by President Irfaan Ali himself and leading private sector actors, the government seemed poised to intensify discussions on this front and move ahead with the development of Silica City.
With several agreements to be signed between the Korean investors and the government by the end of the week, President Ali also encouraged the local private sector to see value in the proposals and move to establish joint enterprises.
Specific to Silica City, the Korean Company – Yeochon Architects – shared its vision for state-of-the-art infrastructure and said it can deliver on the project within seven years.
With a design to ensure it is the most ideal smart city, Silica City is expected to be the economic hub of the Caribbean, located 35km from the capital, Georgetown, and situated on 16km2 of total area along the Linden/Soesdyke Highway.
It promises to be pedestrian-centric, carbon-free, interconnected, sustainable, attractive and safe.
Proposals were also made on a range of development projects with the private sector even as President Ali said the Guyana School of Agriculture intends to capitalise on some with a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed to facilitate smart agriculture, training and technology transfer.
“They are ready, the guys are serious, they have the financing and they want partnerships… from our side we will be doing hydroponics and containerized shrimp production but the private sector can do this on a massive scale,” Dr. Ali added.
The government had first encountered the investors during recent international travels.
“When we go to these international engagements what we seek to do is to work with companies that will position Guyana’s economy 2030 and beyond. The next 10 years is to build an economy that is way beyond our time and futuristic… if you’re not doing that you’ll be marking time, just passing time,” Dr. Ali added as he repeatedly encouraged the private sector to be part of the changes ahead.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh believes the interest and visit from the Koreans are timely.
“You come absolutely at the right time…. You came at an exciting time for the country economically,” Dr. Singh said in brief comments even as he reminded that Guyana is currently one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
Pleased by the representation of Korean companies operating with large footprints around the world, Dr. Singh also encouraged buy-in from the local private sector.
“They came with specific proposals for investment and at a level where critical decisions can be made… they are ready, they have the financing, they want partnerships.” Dr. Singh added.
He told the gathering that the government’s robust economic policies and the investment in transport and infrastructure to better link Guyana with its neighbours had long created the platform for these investments.
“An investment in Guyana represents an investment in the market that feeds into the entire Caribbean, northern Brazil and beyond… We have preferential trade agreements in the United States, Europe and Brazil.”
“Your companies have quite rightly spotted an opportunity in Guyana that we hope to translate into tangible investments,” Dr, Singh said.