Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Billions needed to modernise Caribbean infrastructure

THE Caribbean needs US$30 billion of infrastructure investment if it is to compete on a global scale, reduce poverty and drive sustainable growth.

This is according to President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Warren Smith. In his address the UK-Caribbean Business Conference recently, he revealed that over the next 10 years, some US$30 billion will be required to modernise and enhance the efficiency of the power, transportation, telecommunications, and water and wastewater sectors.

He said that 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.

According to the president, 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.

“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 per cent 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.

The CDB is promoting this transformation through both development financing and technical assistance, and assisting to mobilise private sector participation through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). (TL)

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