– with the operation of Bon Success Industrial Park in Lethem
By Navendra Seoraj
THE Border of Guyana and Brazil, Region Nine, has been a conduit for trade and commerce between the two countries, but, for the business people on the Guyana side, the benefits have been left over due to adequate infrastructure such as a park industrial, soon to be implemented, is absent for many years.
Brazil has been known as an “economic powerhouse” for years, with other commercial and economic activities flourishing in every corner of the country. And, for business people in Region Nine, this country is basically a golden mine of opportunities.
Immediately in the northern part of Brazil, closer to Guyana, there is a market, valued at over US $ 4 million, which Guyanese has only been able to ‘pinch’ and ‘admire’ due to infrastructure deficiencies. However, the Industrial Park at Bon Success, Lethem, gives investors the opportunity to access this and other major markets through value-added initiatives.
An industrial park is an area zoned and designed for industrial development purposes. It can be thought of as a more “heavyweight” version of a business park or office park, which has offices and light industry, rather than heavy industry.
The 80-acre plot of land was identified in 2014 with development slates to be completed in three phases. These include roads and drainage structures and culverts, construction of 3,020 meters of road, 6,040 meters of drains and culverts, water distribution network and holding ponds. To date the Government of Guyana has spent over $ 1 billion to get this initiative up and running.
And, according to Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) President Daniel Gajie, most of the infrastructure work is done, with only a few “finishing touches” needed.
With the area nearing completion, the Government, through the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, has invited applications from interested parties locally and abroad wishing to acquire industrial lots at Bon Success.
According to a newspaper ad, the industrial plots are available for lease for manufacturing and service related activities in the following zones: processing industries, light, medium and heavy industries, industrial business, small industries and information and communication zones. There is also a modern business incubation center to provide business support services on the estate.
In order to access land, investors must have the ability to begin construction immediately after receiving official permission to occupy the allocated land area.
Gajie told the Guyana Chronicle that business people in Region Nine want to access lands and start larger-scale operations because, as it is now, many people operate from their yards or houses.
“We have quite a few local businesses operating in their yards … and they want to get a plot of land and move over to a big enterprise or modernize and expand what they do,” Gajie said during a phone interview with the Guyana Chronicle on Monday.
While the individual benefits are expected to be large, the wider outcome would be to transform Region Nine into an economic powerhouse.
When asked about this possibility, Gajie said: “Certainly, because we are already sitting at the foot of an economic powerhouse … we would be able to access a market that exceeds US $ 4 million initially in the north. .and this would not only benefit Lethem, but the entire Region of Nine. ”
Guyana would be able to increase its market share in Brazil because the product and products coming out of Region Nine would be refined and standardized.
The region has key items like cassava, peanuts and many fruits such as mangoes that are usually wasted because supply outstrips demand.
“So, if the park comes on stream, it will allow us to transform the raw potential of the region into value-added products … it will allow us to have products of acceptable standards not only consumed nationally, but also international use. ”, Says Gajie.
With increased consumption, exports and increasing demand, economic activities such as farming would naturally increase. Not only will there be more producers, but there would be wider job creation and employment opportunities.
COST OF ELECTRICITY
But for this to be a complete success, Gajie believes that the land and other infrastructure must be complemented by a steep fall in the cost of electricity.
“If we can significantly reduce the cost of electricity, that would be great because we pay the highest in the country at $ 80 per kilowatt,” said Gajie.
It was recently reported that the Government, having reviewed the nation’s energy mix, had formulated a strategy that would move Guyana towards energy efficiency.
“We’ve had a serious review of almost all the small systems we’ve had. In the past few weeks, we have approved contracts to do hydropower in Kumu [Lethem]… We had to look back at what was planned, so we would get 1.5 megawatts of that and have to reinstall Moco Moco which would be another megawatt .7. So that’s 2.2 megawatts and just last week we approved a one megawatt solar farm…, ”said Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo in a previous report.
The aggregate supply of 2.2 megawatts plus the one megawatt generated by the solar farm would give Lethem three times its current capacity. The town’s peak demand is around 1.1 megawatts of power.
“We would have almost tripled capacity and it all comes from renewable energy, which would allow huge growth in industrial estates and industrial plants for that area, and also residential purposes,” Vice President Jagdeo reasoned .
Sitting at the southern tip of Guyana, Lethem borders Brazil, a known economic powerhouse in South America. The availability of reliable and inexpensive electricity would, therefore, inevitably draw consumers and developers to Lethem.
“If the whole Lethem runs on renewable energy, money will be saved; there would be a budgetary balance of payments, welfare impact and business impact, ”Jagdeo reasoned.
Given the huge benefits that can be had from reliable and cheap electricity, the Vice President said that such provision remains a top priority for the Government.
Gajie said the business community in Region Nine welcomes those commitments and looks forward to their implementation and speedy implementation.
Another key element of a complete development would be improved roads and supporting infrastructure.
It was recently reported that the journey from Lethem to Georgetown takes as long as 13 hours depending on the condition of the road. It recently became impossible. However, there are plans to prepare this road and, once made, the journey is projected to take no more than five hours.
This piece of infrastructure will not only improve transportation, but will also add to trade and tourism and increase land value, among other things.
The construction of this road was discussed when high-level Government officials, including the President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, with a visiting team from Brazil, which included the country’s External Relations Minister, Ernesto Araújo, and senior Ministry officials. External Relations and Brazilian Federal Police.
The two countries also agreed to implement an “International Road Transport Agreement”.
In addition, both sides reviewed the existing cooperation program between Guyana and Brazil and agreed to implement a number of measures aimed at expanding and strengthening cooperation at the bilateral and regional levels, in the context of existing cooperation mechanisms.
Following positive discussions, both sides also agreed on methods for advancing the cooperation agenda in trade and investment, health, agriculture, energy, tourism and security.