World leaders to visit Guyana

Irfaan Ali

In the coming weeks and months, there will be high-level visits from Kenya, Colombia, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Latin America, the Caribbean, EU and Asia, revealed president Mohamed Irfaan Ali of Guyana on the heels of UN General Assembly (UNGA76). Prior to New York, president Ali was in Mexico for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit.

“A number of leaders expressed their interest in visiting Guyana in the near future, including president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta and Colombia’s president Iván Duque Márquez,” said president Ali, at a press briefing in New York City, “Guyana is attracting significant attention at the international level and indicated that it was due to the country’s stature as a fast emerging economy.”

Guyana is emerging as a major oil and gas player by 2025. By the end of 2022, Guyana will begin producing one million barrels of oil a day. The country has made over 20 oil discoveries so far.

President Ali held over a dozen bilateral meetings with world leaders and international organizations. Meetings were held with the head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), IDB, the UN and the Organisation of American States (OAS).

The president met with leaders of Austria, Kosovo, the Maldives, Colombia, Ghana, Brazil and Barbados; and held meetings with the prime minister of Kuwait and the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia. The Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen is expected to visit Guyana and Suriname.

“It is clear that Guyana is an area of high focus. Our country is playing on a different stage, our country is getting a different level of attention; our country is being focused on. […] It has been a long week putting Guyana, and the opportunities Guyana has, on the international stage and the response has been enormous. We have had to manage time very carefully. We still have a lot of meetings and requests for bilaterals,” Ali said.

The president noted that these delegations will visit the country to do a “physical evaluation” of what opportunities are available in the various sectors in Guyana.

“We have spoken to many of these investors, sophisticated investors, about the opportunities and food security, agriculture, the services industry, manufacturing, and of course, the diversification of our energy sector,” he added, “The investors are willing to make large investments in both the public and private sectors. The president and his team were however adamant that Guyanese must also benefit from these investments as part of the government’s local content policy.”

The president pointed out that the investors were happy that opportunities will be available in non-oil sectors since they are looking at the sustainability of their investments and the long-term effect of the country’s development.

“From all the engagements, it is clear that persons were following the five months [after the March 2020 general elections], and of course it raises questions from them in terms of the sustainability of a country when you have democracy threatened the way it was threatened. So, we had to repair a lot of damage. Also, we had to answer a lot of questions in relation to that. But we are very happy that we had the opportunity to do so. And we were able to present Guyana as a strong emerging market, not only for oil and gas, but for various opportunities that will come.”

France recently opened an embassy in Guyana and the number of foreign missions in Georgetown are expected to double by the end of 2022. President Ali also indicated that he will travel to the United Arab Emirates in October for Expo 2021. His government will soon open embassies in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Nairobi and Accra.