Barbados at 49: Living joyfully with purpose

Bajans celebrate the anniversary of their independence with a service in Toronto. Gerald V. Paul photo.
Bajans celebrate the anniversary of their independence with a service in Toronto. Gerald V. Paul photo.

The Barbadian Diaspora graced the Cathedral Church of St. James recently in a service of thanksgiving to celebrate the 49th anniversary of their independence under the theme Living Joyfully with Purpose.
Meanwhile, their Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, the chairman of CARICOM, was in Malta last Thursday delivering a speech at the Commonwealth Business Forum called Focus on the Caribbean.
As they marked the anniversary, Bajans here and on the island considered words from their national anthem “The Lord has been the people’s guide for past three hundred years. With Him still on the people’s side we have no doubts or fears.”
History abounds in Barbados. The Parliament of Barbados, the oldest democratic institution in the Caribbean, celebrated 375 years of existence last year.
High Commissioner of Barbados to Canada Yvonne Walkes delivered Stuart’s independence message noting that Barbados also looks to the future. The country will host the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, launched last month.
“The Caribbean thus has the physical conditions, the market and the regulatory framework to make investment in the renewable energy sector an attractive prospect from every perspective,” Walkes quoted Stuart as saying.
Stuart noted that “Barbados, has one of the world’s highest penetration levels for solar water heaters – in excess of 30% of houses are equipped with these energy-saving, carbon-neutral devices.”
Stuart said the energy centre development is built around four pillars.
“The first is what might be described as our intrinsic assets – good location, perfect weather, high levels of education and, critically, enduring political stability, built upon strong institutions.”
The second pillar is the productive sector, he said. “In Barbados we are on track to record one billion US dollars in investment in our tourism sector over the period 2015-19 (but) investment opportunities are not limited to the hospitality sector. The Caribbean is a diverse region and this diversity is reflected in the investment opportunities, whether there are in the extractive sectors, manufacturing, infrastructure, or, renewable energy.”
Stuart’s third pillar is that the Caribbean is the heart of a network of regional, hemispheric and international trading arrangements.
As a fourth pillar, he said the region encourages public-private partnerships, that is, “private sector equity, combined with loans for which the private sector proponents and projects take responsibility.”