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EDITORIAL: To whom much is given, much is required

EDITORIAL: To whom much is given, much is required
Guyana in recent times has for obvious reasons not only become a frequent headliner in the regional realm but has also demanded global attention because of its newfound prosperity – by way of the oil bounty that lies in the Atlantic Ocean, north of the capital. And so it is that a major international energy conference has attracted a large number of heavy hitters and serious investors to these shores.
The Guyana Marriott Hotel, once a source of contention over its viability, is providing the perfect backdrop for a confab of such great importance, and the opening ceremony gave clear insights into this government’s priorities and preferred pathway.
Delivering his keynote address, President Irfaan Ali was keen to compartmentalize those priorities, and did not allow the maze of figures and projections to deflect from the ultimate aim of his administration, “to forge partnerships to build a team to lead for success”.
It can only be described as impressive, amidst the ever-increasing calls for Guyana to demand its fair share, and for the government to upset the apple cart if the benefits are not meaningful, that the President sought to commence his almost 40-minute speech with a clarion call for regional collaboration – in essence, allowing other territories to share in our fortune for the betterment of the entire region.
The Guyanese leader re-emphasized that the country is open to investors and that its assets are a boon to emerging as a diversified economy. The absence of selfishness will undoubtedly strike a melodious chord among those who are meeting for the next few days.
The theme “Charting a Sustainable Energy Future” is appropriate, and a reminder that despite the fact that the resources available are significant, a delicate but necessary balance will eventually have to be struck in relation to the dependency on petroleum resources, and the inevitable shift to green energy – Solar Power, Wind Power, Hydropower, Geothermal Energy, Biomass, Biofuels, etc.
President Ali seemingly understands all too well that to whom much is given, much is required, thus being a major oil and gas producer comes with great responsibility. In this regard, a commitment was made to the sustainable exploitation of resources as well as environmental preservation.
There was a coherent tone to this address; an enlightened expression of where the country is being projected to situate itself in this fast-paced evolution. The highlighting of a low-carbon development strategy pathway was cleverly accentuated.
The audience received an emphatic reminder that Guyana is a world leader in climate change, ecosystems and biodiversity. The delegates heard that the country “presents 18.3 million hectares of standing forest covering 87 percent of our land area…the forest stores 19.5 gigatons of carbon, worth conservatively 195 billion United States dollars”.
It was a timely boast; ‘Guyana is on the map, watch us’. Its impact on those listening was clear. The practicality of the President’s general assessment on the state of play was encapsulated subsequently in one definitive utterance.
“Let me be clear on this; we will remain uncompetitive if we cannot address the cost of energy; we must address the cost of energy. Our private sector will not be able to grow if we do not bring down the cost of energy, and we will bring down the cost of energy by 50%, by 2024. And to do that we must make the strategic investment.”
Whatever the future holds in terms of Guyana’s benefits from the oil and gas industry certainly cannot be determined immediately at a four-day meeting.
The vicissitudes in our everyday life are making a mockery of bold predictions. Covid-19 and other peripheral setbacks are giving governments sleepless nights. In addition, not everyone is happy or satisfied with what Guyana is accepting for its resources.
In short, only time will tell. However, if anything can be taken from President Ali’s opening remarks at the 2022 International Energy Conference and Exhibition, it is that his administration is not unaware of the monumental challenges that lie ahead. He has talked the talk, we need to see him and his administration walk the walk.