By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Before the end of the first quarter of 2019, Guyana plans to open a diplomatic mission in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Georgetown is also exploring the opening of a mission in Addis Ababa, the diplomatic capital of Africa, especially that the country is seeking assistance in the development of its oil and gas sector, foreign minister and vice-president Carl Greenidge told Parliament on Friday.
Greenidge is actively framing a foreign policy that complements the emerging oil and gas industry of Guyana and is looking to collaborate with other petroleum producing nations and multilateral organisations that have experience in the petroleum sector that Guyana can benefit from he said to Parliament.
“One of the things we are doing, for example, we are going to open or establish more honourary consulates and look also at UAE, where we might establish an ambassador, Ethiopia perhaps [also]… there are lots of things going, so that we are deeply and widely international,” Greenidge said.
The country plans to spend money to accelerate its diplomatic outreach after major oil and gas discoveries off the Guyana coast in the past five years.
“It is what economists call marginal change; in other words, you are doing 50 things and this is the area where there will be the most significant increase in our efforts. The petro-politics, as it were, and the international agencies, multilateral and bilateral agencies who can help us to support the development of oil and gas,” the minister told Parliament.
“We are funding the diplomats and the visits and their meetings, which are aimed at dealing with that, for example. These are relatively new areas… we will do a lot more on that in 2019 than we have done in the past, because you are only now seeking to develop the petroleum and the gas,” Greenidge added.
Since 2012, Guyana has been looking to send a resident ambassador to Abu Dhabi and now with the major oil and gas discovery by Exxon-Mobil, Greenidge said that Guyana can learn and benefit from oil rich nations that are willing to fund projects in the country.
The UAE had offered Guyana some financial concessions if it opens a mission in that country. Also, there were plans for Guyana to host a Gulf investment forum in Georgetown but which never materialized under the previous administration.
Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar have all appointed ambassadors to Guyana, but Guyana is yet to appoint an ambassador to Doha and Abu Dhabi. It is unclear why Dr Shamir Ally, the resident ambassador of Guyana in Kuwait, hasn’t been appointed to Doha, Abu Dhabi or Riyadh.
Greenidge is due to visit the Gulf region in the near future.
“There is a lot for us to benefit from. They are interested in funding developments in areas in culture, health as well as in things like ports. It is a good partner to have,” Greenidge said.
Meanwhile, diplomats have been calling on Guyana to open a mission in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, the headquarters of the African Union (AU).
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Arab League, among other multilateral organisations, and more than 100 foreign embassies are in Addis Ababa, home to the third largest number of diplomatic missions in the world, after only New York and Geneva.
Thus, “everything is happening in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, one of the fastest growing economies in Africa currently,” remarked Henry MacDonald, former Suriname ambassador to the United Nations.
Guyana, soon to be an oil power, is looking to expand its presence in Africa and is taking notice of the growing economies of East Africa. A mission in Addis Ababa would focus on the growing economies of East Africa – Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.