Guyana targeting free university education, increased food production and boosting defense capabilities in 2024 – President

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The world’s fastest growing economy, powered by massive oil reserves off its coast, is targeting major development projects in 2024.

In his New Year’s message, President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali, outlined a wide range of interventions planned for 2024 that will further advance the robust development trajectory of South America’s newest oil producing nation. He pointed out that the government has set the country on a course for sustained growth and prosperity.

“The New Year – 2024, will see us advance more rapidly along this path as we shape the destiny of present and future generations,” he stated.

Ali said Guyanese are going to benefit from improved infrastructure and public services, including water, housing and education.

“Several major road projects are slated for completion and will make commuting easier,” he pointed out. Already, several new highways have been commissioned and a number of new roadways are planned, as well as a new bridge across the Demerara River, set for completion by December 2024.

By the end of 2024, Contractor – J.V. China Railway Construction Corporation (International) will hand over to Guyana a four-lane, high-span, cable-stay bridge structure with a 100-year lifespan.

Demerara bridge replacement reaches 33% completion, concrete pouring advancing to western end

“We expect in 2024 sugar production to be increased, as we continue to invest in the sector’s contribution to rural employment and the rural economy,” he said. “Rice production, aquaculture and other initiatives will lead to increased food production.”

Significant investment in education is also expected next year, “including preparations for the roll-out of free university education in 2025,” Ali said.

Major investments are already underway to boost training and capacity building that will see Guyana producing better-equipped human resources for the oil and gas, and other sectors.

The Guyana Technical Training College Incorporated (GTTCI) is set to launch operations by next year, with the first phase nearing completion this quarter.

Photos: Guyana’s US$100 million oil & gas and hospitality college for 2024 opening

Turning his attention to enhancing the capacity of the country’s security forces, Ali said, “The capacity and capabilities of our Defense Force will be strengthened to allow for improvements in the defense of our sovereignty and our territorial integrity.”

This comes at a time when Guyana’s western neighbour Venezuela continues to lay claim to over 75 percent of the country’s territory with increased threats of military force in recent weeks.         

Notwithstanding the territorial aggression from Venezuela, the cost of living remains the biggest concern to a majority of Guyanese, especially with expectations of relief due to increasingly large revenues coming in from oil production operations offshore. To this end, Ali said his administration will be looking to address this.

“Cost-of-living interventions will be made to cushion any spikes in prices in our economy,” he said. “We want to put more money into the pockets of people. Our policy making matrix will address this ideal and the idea of putting more money in the pockets of our people.”

Exceeding expectations: Guyana’s economy set to soar by 39.2% in 2023, ECLAC reports

The country’s energy security and the government’s promise of cheaper power also remain high on Ali’s agenda.

“Guyana’s energy security plans will be advanced through the ongoing works for the building of a gas-to-shore energy plant that will reduce energy costs,” he said. “The hinterland electrification program will be expanded to bring electricity to more hinterland residents.”

The Guyanese leader said other issues to receive attention include mental health, suicide, boosting disposable income, building consortiums to further enable Guyanese to benefit from opportunities, and the expansion of manufacturing and industrial development.

A representation of the integrated gas facility to be constructed at Wales on the West Bank of the Demerara River

With over 11 billion barrels of oil equivalent found offshore by ExxonMobil since 2015 and production now hitting 500,000 barrels per day, Guyana is set to become a leading energy player in the region.

The Prosperity FPSO started production offshore Guyana in November 2023

By 2027, the country of approximately 750,000 people will be producing more than 1.2 million barrels of oil per day.

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