By unlocking significant oil resources in the ExxonMobil-operated Stabroek Block, one consultant after another has often said Guyana is poised to become the next Qatar or Dubai of the region. But such a promising future cannot come to pass if Guyana does not devise a strategy to enlist the help of foreign experts while developing its own entrepreneurial talent, says David Lewis, a Fellow of the Caribbean Policy Consortium.
The Vice President of Manchester Trade Ltd, an international business advisory firm working on all Caribbean trade, investment, and economic integration agreements from the 1984 Caribbean Basin Initiative, shared the foregoing perspective during a recent panel discussion on Guyana’s Local Content law.
Lewis said the sheer size and transformative potential of Guyana’s oil wealth is simply phenomenal. He stressed however that human resources will be key to the new oil producer’s success, though the country’s population of roughly 800,000 citizens combined with those in the Diaspora would be less than 1.5 million people.
The international advisor said the absence of key human resources in the right numbers means Guyana will have to rely on help from other nations. He said this approach should be welcomed since it is the model that was used by Qatar and Dubai to build first-class economies.
Lewis said, “Many people see Guyana as the next Qatar or Dubai, but we all need to remember that both nations have 10 foreigners for every national, and that is how they developed not just in energy but in being service hubs… There is no way, no matter how much a government plans, that that is going to happen for Guyana only with Guyanese… We ain’t got enough Guyanese for that.”
Additionally, he said it is critical that the government starts to think and act quickly on the development of entrepreneurial talent in Guyana. He said local content should focus on not only generating top-notch employees but CEOs too.