US$20M loan for power upgrade signed as Guyana gears up to be major oil producer

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Guyana’s Finance Minister, Winston Jordan has sealed an agreement that would see the country receiving US$20M from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) for a Utility Upgrade Programme for the Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL).

Mr. Jordan signed the loan in Kuwait on Wednesday, pointing out that “it could not have come at a more opportune time, especially since, Guyana is on the cusp of an historic transformation with the recent discovery of over 4B barrels of oil. Those discoveries began in 2015 and, to date, have numbered 9.”

This US$20million loan will support Guyana’s Power Utility Upgrade Programme which is a component of the country’s power Company’s Development and Expansion Programme for 2014 to 2021. The Finance Minister said It incorporates necessary reforms and upgrades to reduce losses, and improve the quality and reliability of electricity supply and will, at the same time help to transform Guyana’s infrastructural landscape, boost its manufacturing sector and improve the quality of life of citizens.

“We look forward to working with the IsDB on projects in several sectors, including agriculture. Guyana is a major producer of rice in South America, exporting some US$200 million worth in 2017. In this regard, I wish to express gratitude to the Bank for the Reverse-Linkage Project, which will assist in updating Guyana’s expertise and technology in rice production as well as introduce innovative rice varieties in Guyana,” he said.

He also expressed gratitude for a Grant for the modernisation and upgrade of the Palms Geriatric Facility in Georgetown. “This support will result in better care for the elderly,” Mr. Jordan said.

The Guyana Power and Light has long been challenged by its inability to provide a reliable supply of electricity and suffers high levels of losses. This has been compounded by a rapid increase in demand for energy by residential and commercial users. The GPL Utility Upgrade Programme is co-financed by the Inter-American Development Bank and the European Union, and upon completion will reduce losses, realise a more efficient and reliable service and deliver a better quality of electricity for households and commercial users.

The Utility Upgrade Programme is part of GPL’s Development and Expansion for the period 2014 to 2021 which aims to reduce the overall losses in the power system. The loan will facilitate the rehabilitation of 153 km of GPL’s medium voltage and low voltage network and 6, 941 smart meters, including the associated transformers, service lines and distribution boxes. It will also allow for the rehabilitation and extension of two 69/13.8KV substations at Kingston and Vreed-en-hoop including equipment switchgear, power transformers, rerouting of circuits distribution feeders and cable connections.

It will also finance consultancy services for the preparation of designs and specifications for the sub-stations and the site supervision for the works related to the Kingston and Vreed-en-hoop substations, as well as support the existing project management unit by financing additional specialised engineers and technicians to reinforce the existing team. GPL is the Executing Agency for the project and will operate under the aegis of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.

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