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U.S Development Bank looking to “move to action very quickly” on Guyana investments

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The historic six-agency delegation that was led by the U.S Development Bank on a visit to Guyana on Tuesday is looking to move ahead quickly in making investments, particularly in the area of large infrastructure projects in South America’s newest oil producing nation.

The U.S Government delegation was led by  the International Development Finance Corporation’s (DFC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adam Boehler and consisted of agencies of the U.S Government including the Department of the Treasury, the Export-Import Bank, the  Department of State, the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security.

The group held a meeting with Guyana’s Private Sector Commission (PSC) on strengthening the US-Guyana cooperation in areas including infrastructure and energy.

According to Boehler, the DFC — a $60 billion investment agency that invests around the world — spoke about potential infrastructure investment in its discussions with the PSC.

“We talked about infrastructure, whether that’s a deepwater port, whether that is investment in a bridge now between Guyana and Suriname,” he said. “We’re looking to move to action very quickly which is why we came out here so I’m hopeful we’ll announce investments in Guyana soon. We’re going to engage with Nick [Boyer, the Private Sector Commission’s Chairman]  and with others to identify projects that we can invest in,” the CEO said.

Of particular interest to the delegation is the reduction of the cost of electricity, an area that Boehler said would be addressed with Guyana’s President and Cabinet, saying, “How do we get the cost of electricity down so that the average person pays less for their electricity?”

The Guyana Government has already signaled that they will be utilising Guyana’s natural gas resources to generate cheaper and more reliable power, in a bid to cut electricity costs by up to 60 percent. Of the more than 8 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources discovered at the Stabroek Block, 20 percent is estimated to be natural gas. The Government has already said that the landing site for the pipeline and location where the infrastructure is to be set up for the gas to power project will be finalized before the end of the year with work set to begin in 2021.

The U.S delegation’s visit comes on the heels of the visit by U.S Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo to Guyana in September. That visit by Mr. Pompeo was the first such visit by a U.S Secretary of State and paved the way for the DFC’s visit as a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Mr. Pompeo and Guyana’s President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali. The MoU is aimed at strengthening cooperation between the U.S and Guyana on energy and infrastructure, among other areas and explore potential financial support from the U.S International Development Finance Corporation for such projects.

Mr. Boehler also noted that like the Secretary of State’s visit, the delegation’s travels to Guyana was also historic. “I’d like to call out the historic nature of having six U.S Government agencies all coming together at the same time. That’s the first time that’s happened in the Western Hemisphere in decades and it speaks to our focus on Guyana. And, I think really we have now, a foundation for an elevated and strengthened relationship between the United States and Guyana,” he stated.

Acknowledging that they look at both large and small infrastructure projects, the DFC CEO said, “We look at large infrastructure projects like a large port but equally we look at every single mortgage that would go to an individual person in Guyana so what is most important to me is not the amount of money but the impact that we are going to have. “

He continued, “So know that we are going to look at projects that are in the multi, hundreds of millions, to billions of dollars,  down to projects that are going to get $500 to a small entrepreneur that needs it.”

Meanwhile, a visit by a Surinamese delegation is expected in Guyana today, while a delegation from Brazil is also expected to visit in November.  Just yesterday, President Ali had discussions with Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, during  which the Emir signaled willingness to support Guyana’s Agriculture Sector through investments in the Halaal industry, as well as a desire to strengthen diplomatic ties between the two countries to support sectors including energy, oil and gas, services and infrastructure. Similar conversations were held with French Ambassador, Antoine Joly.

The Guyanese President is on record as saying, “We have been meeting with a lot of investors regionally, internationally, and even locally,” emphasising that Guyana is about to go through “a period of tremendous transformation–infrastructure transformation, technological transformation and also transformation of our human resources.”

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