USD30 Billion Needed to Modernise Caribbean Infrastructure over Next Decade
President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Warren Smith, is asserting that the Caribbean needs USD30 billion of infrastructure investment if it is to compete on a global scale, reduce poverty and drive sustainable growth. Dr. Smith was addressing the UK-Caribbean Business Conference at Lancaster House on Tuesday , 17 June, 2014. Dr. Smith said: "Over the next 10 years, some USD30 billion will be required to modernise and enhance the efficiency of the power, transportation, telecommunications, and water and wastewater sectors. "In the energy sector alone, massive investment will be needed to replace obsolete and inefficient generating plant over the next five years and to transform the electricity infrastructure so that the region's vast renewable energy potential can be exploited," he said. CDB is actively promoting a new Green Economy paradigm for sustainable growth, noting that renewable energy, coupled with energy efficiency, would create opportunities for the growth of new non-traditional businesses, lower electricity costs and boost foreign exchange reserves by reducing energy imports. The CDB is promoting this transformation through both development financing and technical assistance, and assisting to mobilise private sector participation through Public-Private Partnerships. Dr. Smith said: "Our small, open, island and/or coastal countries are extremely vulnerable to both economic and weather-related shocks. The probability of our region being hit, each year, by a natural disaster is as high as 10-24 per cent; and the annual economic cost of damage from natural hazards is around 1% of GDP. "Most of our countries are highly dependent on imported fossil fuels for power generation. This vulnerability to volatile oil prices has contributed hugely to the competitiveness challenges of Caribbean industries. It has also been a principal cause of unsustainable balances of payments and sovereign indebtedness problems," he said. In recent years CDB has financed PV systems in remote areas, bringing clean and affordable energy to villages and often - for the first time - powering modern water supply. CDB also provides finance benefitting over 260,000 students; skills training and technical assistance to over 7,000 micro, small and medium-size businesses; finances social and economic infrastructure including roads, community buildings and water pipelines; and supports agriculture and rural development through drainage flood and irrigation works, training and credit provision. The conference was jointly organised by The Caribbean Council, the FCO and the Caribbean Export Development Agency. The UK is a founding shareholder of the Bank and with just under 10 percent is, jointly with Canada, the largest non-Caribbean member. CAPTION: Dr. Warren Smith, President of Caribbean Development Bank, spoke on economic prospects for the region at the UK-Caribbean Business Conference held at Lancaster House, London on Tuesday, June 17. Dr. Smith said over the next 10 years, some USD$30 billion will be required to modernise and enhance the efficiency of the power, transportation, telecommunications, and water and wastewater sectors. The conference was hosted by The Caribbean Council, the FCO and the Caribbean Export Development Agency.