Local Content Facilitation Fund will help Guyanese businesses – President Ali
– Encourages CARICOM private sector to team up with Afreximbank to fix region’s transport issues
His Excellency President Dr Irfaan Ali said that stakeholders are working to formulate an agreement for the establishment of a Local Content Facilitation Fund before the end of the two-day AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2023, which is being held in Guyana.
During the opening ceremony of the event at the Marriott Hotel, today, the Head of State said that the initiative between the Government and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) will increase cash flow for local suppliers to enhance their investments.
The President pointed out that the fund has worked in Angola and Nigeria and should support the local business community. He lauded the diligence of Afreximbank and the Chair of its Board of Directors, Professor Benedict Oramah and said that the time is ripe to forge a stronger partnership between CARICOM and Africa.
“Today, the world is faced with many challenges. We in CARICOM are not divorced from those challenges. For a matter of fact, those challenges come at an accelerated pace to us, and we have the choice to bow before the challenges or confront those challenges and win amongst them. The Afreximbank offers that branch to help us to confront these challenges and win against them.”
One of these challenges, President Ali pointed out, is to build a regional maritime transportation system. He charged the region’s private sector to form themselves into a consortium and use the support of Afreximbank to end “our regional transport system failure”.
“We are too small to think and act in silos. We have to learn to remove the imaginary barriers between ourselves and act in a collective, in a consortium, bringing together our collective capital, our collective talent and our collective structure so that we can make use of the largest-scale opportunities that exist within the region. We can’t tiptoe around this anymore.”
The President said that effective maritime transportation is imperative for the collaborative plans in place for the region.
“We can plant and grow as much as we want. We can do agro-processing, manufacturing, industrial development, we can re-engineer the supply chain, but we have to move things; we have to move things throughout the region. We must find the solution.”
HISTORIC AFRICA-CARIBBEAN RELATIONSHIP
President Ali also spoke about the cultural, economic, historical and human ties between Africa and the Caribbean Region.
“For a matter of fact, that is the root of this relationship. That is the bedrock of this relationship. That is the main artery that will ensure this relationship is fuelled with the blood that will keep it alive.”
The Head of State underscored that CARICOM and the Bank must align their thoughts on how we can build a regional project and transfer the technology that is required in a world 2030 and beyond.
“My friends, today as I said earlier, we have an opportunity of expanding this partnership in a different way. The colonizers’ goal was to expand the slave trade, in honour of those men and women who we lost in the most horrendous form we now have an opportunity to rewrite the history, of collaborating and expanding partnerships, for the prosperity of the people of our region.”
He further explained that the South-South trade potential is estimated at US$16 trillion with a population of more than four billion people among 42 developing nations.
“UNTAG reports that the volume is now higher than that of the North-South trade, growing faster than the world average, fostering trade in non-traditional exports including higher value-added and technology-intensive manufactured goods.”
President Ali added that “we owe it to the memories of that generation” to do all we can in this generation, in this time of our history, to build stronger and create greater bonds based on friendship, love and prosperity.
Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable Mia Amor Mottley; Prime Minister of St Lucia, the Honourable Philip Joseph Pierre; representatives from several African countries, members of the diplomatic community, business leaders and a number of cabinet ministers were also at the event.