Future positive as Guyana discovers oil reserves but fears country not ready.

The United States Geological Survey ranks Guyana-Suriname as the world’s second-most prospective, underexplored offshore basin, with an estimated 13.6B bbl of oil and 32 tcf of natural gas yet to be discovered. In May 2015, ExxonMobil announced it made a significant oil discovery with the Liza-1 exploration well on the Stabroek block about 120 mi (193 km) offshore in the Guyana basin.  As of March 30, 2017 Exxon confirmed positive results of a 4th well offshore Guyana on the Stabroek Block bringing the total discovered reserves to around 1.4 billion oil equivalent barrels. Pumping should begin in 2020 with full blown production starting around 2023.

The Guyanese economy is at a critical time in its own industrial development given the burgeoning of its hydrocarbon sector. Analyst says that the discovery helps solidify the area offshore Guyana as an “exploration province” for at least the next fifty years and in light of Guyana’s small population (approximately 752,000), crude could make the country one of the world’s biggest oil producers on a per-capita basis.

Amidst the exuberance, some note that the Country is not ready for such influx of revenue and Guyana must be careful as not to negatively impact its economy In a country with no history of managing complex large scale industries except sugar and bauxite, the size and potential quick development timeline has civil society focused on the ways in which oil could boost the country’s economy or put it at risk.  If it is to successfully extract oil, Guyana needs to build the institutions and capacity to take advantage of the opportunity the discovery could provide.

The government faces a steep learning curve. Beyond fiscal revenues, Guyanese officials have to take advantage of the skills and technology associated with the complex oil space to build a more robust technocratic private sector and empower a new generation of highly skilled technocrats. Alongside the optimism that the oil discovery will be a major driver of the country’s development, Guyanese civil society are also acutely aware of the risks associated transitioning to oil production, particularly in a country already facing challenges with respect to measures of government effectiveness, rule of law, control of corruption, transparency and other governance indicators. One particular concern was how the oil sector could impact the country’s green growth agendaIt is critical that civil society organizations across Guyana to build a critical mass of citizen understanding so they become part of the solution to how Guyana can take decisions which harness the resource for sustained prosperity.

Challenges:

  1. Guyana is an emerging oil producer.  But country has no experience in oil production.
  2. The private sector is generally small and focused on agro-food processing, construction, retail  and distribution.   Little expertise in chemical manufacturing, undersea welding, fabrication, etc. and will likely face challenges in supplying local content to the sector in the foreseeable future.
  3. The country has a history of exporting skilled labor.
  4. The prospective oil production will occur at an  ultra-deep offshore site that requires a high level of sophisticated technology and skilled labor unavailable in Guyana.
  5. Country has weak institutional capacity especially environmental monitoring and enforcement.

Benefits:

  1. Significant revenue earner for central government.
  2. Significant generator of hard currency.
  3. Opportunity to learn from others mistakes and do it right.   Generous assistance is being offered by a number of governments—US, UK, Canada, Mexico, Norway and international organizations like the Inter-American Development Bank, Commonwealth Secretariat, World Bank and EITI.

 The immediate tasks of citizens and civil society is to

  1.  Advocate for a comprehensive energy policy, an adequate regulatory regime,  and a level playing field in terms of incentives and rules of the game.
  2.  Advocate of local content legislation.
  3. Advocate for rapid institutional strengthening and transparency.
  4.  Influence Government policies on human capital development for the sector.
  5.  Advocate for Sovereign Wealth Fund and clear allocation rules and a commitment to fight Dutch Disease.

Guyana is blessed.   Much needs to be done to assure broad distribution of benefits and resulting dynamism of this resource windfall. 

Featured post

Help! Stakeholder on the Warpath.

On the Warpath

A traditional Guyanese proverb says “slow fiah bile hard cow heel” which in plan english translates to mean that a consistent effort will eventually provide the desired results. So, as the largest development partner with an annual financial footprint of US$35 Million in Guyana, what do you do when a lone stakeholder is on the war path? 

The problem was that this particular stakeholder and some; were on the war path, and had been gunning for the Bank for at least one year. Each new week brought apprehension about the next critical letter to appear in the local media complaining  about the Inter-American Development Bank , questioning the institution’s commitment to indigenous peoples and the handling of development projects intended to benefit indigenous peoples.

To the institution’s credit, it understood that the only way to get good at handling difficult stakeholders, was to practice handling difficult stakeholders. The IDB took the principled approach of not responding publicly to the antagonism of the stakeholder – who many believed was writing under several fictitious names – but to bringing all of Guyana’s indigenous stakeholders into a conversation and a long term engagement to participate in its work and to lead their own dialogue on projects intended to benefit indigenous peoples. 

Living in the Matrix

In The Matrix, Neo (Keanu Reeves) discovers that what he thought was real was nothing more than a computer generated simulation intended to give human begins the illusion of freedom.  Too often, making assumptions about stakeholders keeps institutions boxed into a matrix of predictable and predetermined reactions toward them that are congruent with the matrix of conversations they have about what they think is going on. The matrix robs institutions of their ability to freely draw on creative solutions.  An example of this “matrix” of predictable and predetermined reaction is the current full blown conflict between the Georgetown Mayor and City Council and citizens over the parking meter project.

Traditional development approaches tell us that engagement and dialogue should aim for “quick wins” but these fail for a lack organizational investment, insufficient leadership commitment and few dedicated resources – not of money, but of time and effort. The IDB Guyana Office had long known that indigenous audience engagement was not a “natural act” as the political history of patronage removed the potential for partnership between some agencies and indigenous communities and that communities did not have significant experience in the skills required for substantive engagement.

How to Neutralize a Warmonger

Christopher Hitchens said that nonintervention does not mean that nothing happens. It means that something else happens. So what did the IDB do to stay clear of this war path.

  • The institution invested time and effort building an open and transparent relationship with the indigenous community as a key commodity to partnership.
  • The institution opened itself to listen generously. The major way community stakeholders negotiate is through complaining. When the institution listened to indigenous stakeholders generously, it communicated that they are worth listening to and what they are communicating is worth listening to.
  • It understood that relationship was only an entry point. Development requires a culture of coordination and inclusion and relationship is the only way to genuinely partner with indigenous communities. 

The lesson is that communities and their stakeholders should not be treated like objects. Some institutions shy away from exploring the fears behind “complaining stakeholders” because they assume they will have to pay a hefty price for addressing those complaints. When we think that the merits of a complaining stakeholder is worthless and hopeless that is the moment we need to be generous listeners.  It is said that complaining is “the thoughtful discipline of negotiation“. We are always negotiating the future together, regardless of circumstances and an institution with a vision of alternative possibilities will not be held hostage by circumstances but will invest time and effort in exploring those alternative possibilities.

 

 

Featured post

The Heart of the Matter.

We have a tendency to monitor our behavior while pretty much ignoring our hearts. After all, how do you monitor your heart? I can’t get too far off base in my behavior without somebody drawing it to my attention. But my heart? That seems a bit more complicated.

Jesus said “The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart.”

The heart is such a mystery that we need to learn to monitor it. Like the seismic activity of a dormant volcano, what you don’t know can hurt you.

Suddenly someone files for divorce.

Suddenly our sons, brothers or families are in prison or exhibit disturbing attitude changes.

Suddenly a harmless pastime becomes a destructive habit.

Out of nowhere devastating words pierce the soul of an unsuspecting loved one.

What originates in the secrecy of our hearts won’t always remain a secret. Eventually it finds its way into our homes, offices, neighborhoods, onto Facebook and in the nation.

The heart seeps into every conversation. It dictates every relationship. Our very lives emanate from the heart. We live, parent, lead, relate, romance, confront, react, respond, instruct, manage, problem solve, and love from the heart.

Our hearts impact the intensity of our communication. Our hearts have the potential to exaggerate our sensitivities and insensitivities. Every arena of life intersects with what’s going on in our hearts. Everything passes through on its way to wherever it’s going. Everything.

Today I encourage you that we need the courage to watch over, understand, and purify our hearts for the sake of ourselves, our neighbors and our country.

My Dark Nights

I was at the edge of darkness. It’s not pleasant, your world slowly becomes wobbly, you constantly battle between sin and right living {righteousness}, call into question your faith beliefs and search for honest faith when your world is shaken.

But you hope to press through the valley of darkness believing that somewhere ahead there is light, holding on to the principles of your faith because light is a better option than darkness.  Sometimes a lightening bolt tears a dream apart leaving you with questions for your God, and these life experiences expose our mental and emotional fortitude.

A crisis of faith is often preceded by trials of seemingly unanswered prayers or unrelenting life circumstances, which shake us to the core. Yes it becomes so severe that you wonder if God is there.

A crisis of faith causes you to seriously question whether what you believe and live by is true.”

Crisis Point

I have struggled and faced my own crisis of faith when my wife and I lost our first child who was 4 weeks old {And I will tell the story of how our health care system needs urgent overhaul}. My fervent prayers for his life were unanswered, even though I was ready to give up mine for his. I was loved by many but a sense of abandonment settled over me and I didn’t know what to do. I felt those in the faith community did not know how to respond to my crisis or how to walk me back from the edge of darkness.

My life was at a crossroads. Do I walk away from my community of fellowship? Do I wrestle with and question the validity of my God or do I abandon my faith to explore life on my own terms? Responding to my crisis of faith became paramount if I was to survive as I was spiraling to depression {Yes, I will return to this silent epidemic in our society in a subsequent blog}.

I saw this crisis of faith in the lives of some of the great men of God in the Bible. Men who did some of the greatest exploits that have ever been done in the name of God. Men like King David, King Solomon and Joseph who we have read about, studied their lives and felt that we could never match up to their walk. Yet, these men reached such a great crisis point in their lives that some of them asked God to kill them and lamented their hatred for life (see Ecclesiastes 2:17).

I believe that Jesus of all men, suffered his own crisis of faith. Jesus is fully God, but He is also fully human. In the Garden of Gethsemane just before Jesus was arrested he prayed that if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me (Matthew 26:39-40). That “cup” to which Jesus refers is the suffering he was about to endure. It’s as if Jesus were being handed a cup full of bitterness and suffering with the expectation that He drink all of it. He struggled with the need to accept the torture and shame that awaited Him.

Walking Back from the Edge

All of these men ultimately chose not to abandon their faith. They were able to have a crisis and not lose their faith. How then do we overcome a crisis of faith? For me, it was important to be emphatic and patient with myself, and to examine my life to see if this was a gradual process. Our relationship with God is unique. Don’t compare your faith to others. Just because someone is praying more frequently than you or more active in fellowship doesn’t mean that God takes your concerns less seriously or that he loves you any less.

Like Jesus, my faith did not exempt me from life’s troubles. I experienced depression, and loss, and fear but nothing caused as deep a questioning of my faith as the loss of my son. I have come to realize that faith is not meant to be circumstantial. It means trusting in the midst of pleasant as well as painful situations. Acknowledging this did not silence the questions that arose, but I have embraced them as part of the process of growing as a person.

If you’re silently struggling with your faith, you are not alone. Many people are silently struggling with theirs. A crisis of faith could be a fundamental life trial. I am thankful for the few men and women in my life (both Christians and non Christians, Pastors, friends, colleagues and a professional therapist) who helped to walked me back from the edge of darkness. 

You can too. Talk to someone. Today I am more resilient.

In the meantime, keep your chin up and keep the Faith!

Why Should Guyana’s President take Responsibility for the Oil Sector?

So we have all just read, that the Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman has handed responsibility of the Petroleum sector to President Granger. This is not about general good governance. This is about how to get the economic decision chain right and managing that chain of economic and policy decisions around oil and gas. Economic and policy decisions around oil and gas depends upon a tripod of politics and requires a very high level of political activity which is commonly called the AUTHORIZING ENVIRONMENT. This tripod of politics includes rules, institutions and citizen understanding.

The first part of the tripod is rules. You need distinctive rules that address those key decisions. Second you need institutional capacity to implement those rules and third these institutions must be supported by a critical mass of citizen understanding. Now that Guyana has made a sixth discovery, it now needs a rules based system which says the government can’t just do a deal with whatever company shows up at the door of the Ministry of Natural Resources, there has to be an orderly system for selling the rights to resource extraction and that is a transparent process of competition or a policy decision which determines saving out of natural resources revenues. So that’s an example of a legislated rule. But rules need institutions – a team of people, public officials with a mandate – that actually understand rules and policies and has the capacity to implement them other wise what you have are institutions that are paper tigers. These rules and institutions then need to be scrutinized by a critical mass of citizens who understand the issues.

There’s a large waterfront of both rules, legislative and policy rules and institutions which have to be built and that takes us finally to the authorizing environment (view this video about understanding the authorizing environment), who’s going to do that? And the part of the tragedy, is that those decisions of managing natural resources are taken at too low a level of government. Since Guyana discovered oil, the implementing ministry has been the Ministry of Natural Resources but this Ministry has no competence in how revenues should be spent, invested or saved. The Ministry of Natural resources has no competence, no remit, no authority in this sort of investment process.

Guyana’s future is not investing in a lot of oil related activities like refineries, our future is in using those oil revenues to build a diversified economy, build a city and towns that functions well, get a transport system, a port system, an education system.

And so, the authorizing environment that builds and supervises the whole waterfront of laws and institutions that implement those laws, that authorizing environment has to be above the level of any particular ministry and certainly above the level of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

In the end, the only authorizing environment that can make sure that across the waterfront the rules are in place, the institutions are in place, and the critical mass of citizen understanding is built, the only institution that can do that is the Presidency. And so, what is needed is an authorizing environment, which is basically the Ministry of the Presidency plus the relevant ministers who span this range, the whole waterfront of decisions that have to go well in order for resources under the ground to be discovered and converted into sustained prosperity.

Watch this clip to learn more about the Decision Chain of Natural Resources.

About the Blogger


Kevin Bonnett is a leading development practitioner who has provided expertise in strategic development and public policy thinking, thematic sector mapping and analysis, strategic advice and relationship management in priority development areas of economic empowerment, the environment, private sector, crime & insecurity, water and sanitation, education, health sectors and governance among others to the Government of Guyana and some of the world’s leading international development agencies including the United Nations Development Programme, Delegation of the European Commission, United States Agency for International Development, Department for International Development, World Health Organization and World Bank.

Kevin holds a BSc in Public Management and Post Graduate Diploma in Development Studies from the University of Guyana and a Master’s Degree in Global Studies from the University of the West Indies. He also holds a Diploma in Anti-Corruption from the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center in Sweden and a Certificate in Natural Resources Governance from the Natural Resource Governance Institute, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment and The World Bank and is competent in working with UK Ministers and Parliament through training and attachment with the London School of Government.

Making Cents for At-Risk Youths in Guyana by Derise Williams.

SiddiqaSiddiqa Shabazz, a 21-year-old school drop-out became a single mother at the age of seventeen and now has two children ages three and two years old. These days her main sources of income are braiding the hair of friends and neighbors and operating a trampoline on weekends.

After the loss of her mother in 2016 who was her main support, Siddiqa found herself depressed and struggling to provide for her two children.  It was at this point that a village leader told her about a business entrepreneurship program being launched to target at -risk youths in her community of Sophia. Sophia is a former squatting settlement which still is characterized with high levels of crime despite having been regularized over ten years ago. It was for this reason that Sophia was selected under the IDB-financed technical co-operation, Support for the Implementation of the Citizen Security Strategy as a community that can benefit from the intervention.

From Risk to Opportunity

The Youth Entrepreneurship Program, popularly called YouthBiz592 [1] because of its focus on youths in business was implemented through a collaboration among the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Business. The program provided entrepreneurship and life skills training to 87 young people considered to be at-risk from various communities in Guyana with an aim of providing support towards reducing negative behavior and to provide economic empowerment to this specific population group. Under this three-month program, participants received coaching on starting a business, and benefited from opportunities for work attachments with established firms. Networks were developed between students and with trainers and moral support and guidance were provided for persons who felt they did not have the skills and behavior to contribute meaningfully to society.

Birth of an Entrepreneur

In April 2017, Siddiqa’s journey started under the program. Although she facedFun Park 2 challenges such as being unable to work during the period of training and time away from her children, she was able to persevere thanks to the financial support and childcare provided under the program. Based on her business proposal, Siddiqa benefited from a US$1,500 grant which she used to expand her “Kids Fun Rental” business with the purchase of additional trampolines and a generator that allowed her to increase her working hours. In addition to the grant financing received, Siddiqa opined that the skills learnt on business strategies, socializing, empowerment and even parenting have been instrumental in expanding her business.  She now is not only able to comfortably afford her living expenses but also making a difference to someone else by hiring an employee who helps her with her business.

From being overwhelmed with the responsibilities of providing day to day for her family, under the program Siddiqa has transitioned to a life full of zest. Her self-confidence has dramatically improved. Currently she is in the process of applying for another grant to further expand her services to a full party service and rental. She has even decided to continue her schooling and will taking a few subjects inclusive of English and Mathematics at the next Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) exams. “I would recommend such a program to anyone, said Siddiqa, “since it changed my life.”

At its closing, the program was deemed successful with 85 out of 87 beneficiariesFun Park 2 completing with an attendance averaging over 83%. 84 business plans were submitted, out of which 72 were approved and 66 beneficiaries receiving grants of up to US$ 1,500 to start their business ventures. The program was able to institutionalize a business model on youth entrepreneurship within the Small Business Bureau since this was the first such program implemented in Guyana. The success of the program has led to its replication where at-risk youths in 20 communities across Guyana will benefit from entrepreneurship training under the Citizen Security Strengthening Program.

About our Blogger

Derise WilliamsDerise Williams is a Senior Operations Associate at the Inter-American Development Bank Country Office in Guyana.  Since joining the Bank in 2007, Derise has worked in the Operations Department with responsibility for supporting the supervision of the Bank’s portfolio of development projects in the areas of transport, institutional strengthening, public sector management and housing and urban development. She also worked in the Procurement Division at the Bank’s Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Derise has extensive experience in operations, project and procurement management which she readily applies and has helped to drive the successful completion of several Bank operations which continues to improve the lives of Guyanese. Working at the IDB provides her with the opportunity to be innovative and creative in delivering results especially in the areas that she is most passionate about, that is, justice, security, youths and the poor.

Previously, she was a Commerce Officer at the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce from 2004 to 2007 with responsibilities for domestic trade and creating a conducive environment for business. She also lectured at the University of Guyana in the Department of Economics. Derise holds a Bachelor Degree in Economics with Distinction, Post Graduate Diploma in Development Studies with Distinction and a Master’s Degree in Project Management from the University of the West Indies.

 

[1] 592 is in the international dialing code for Guyana

WHY WALKING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD IS SAFER. By Clevern Liddell

Normally, we walk on one side of the road, left side or right side. My colleague Alejandro gave me some good advice once and told me to always walk in the direction of the oncoming traffic. Did you know that? Do you always do it? Am I safe doing this?

According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), on average 34 persons die each year for every 100,000 individuals in Guyana. For the Latin American and Caribbean region, IDB statistics reveal an average of 17 deaths per 100,000 individuals across the region. In the case of Guyana, pedestrians represent the highest percentage (30%) of deaths among road users to the World Health Organization. How’s that for walking on the sides of the road?

During last week, I was on my way to work one morning along the East Bank Demerara (EBD) Roadway in Guyana. Anyone who lives along the EBD knows how frustrating early morning traffic can be. We were almost at the end of the long traffic line and there on

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Incomplete Bagotstown Pedestrian Overpass. Photo Credit, Clevern Liddell. 2017

the right-hand side of the four-lane road I observed a young woman and her daughter of about three years old.  

From my vantage point, I saw her lift her daughter up under her arms, secure her school bags and make a bolt across the road as if she herself were clad in a traffic police’s uniform forcing the oncoming traffic to halt in whichever direction it was flowing. “Oh my goodness!” I shrieked…The truck had stopped abruptly and so did we. This brave mother managed to quickly cross two lanes of traffic and make a pit top at the median for her next attempt to cross the other two lanes.

Surprisingly enough, the area where this incident took place is called Houston, a small neighborhood along the EBD roadway and home to one of the largest container ports in the country as well as a secondary school immediately opposite its entrance and a gas station nearby.

Houston is also one of the areas that will benefit from the construction of a new Pedestrian Overhead Crossing along the EBD Road, the first in the country funded with support from the IDB’s Country Office in Guyana.

Civil works began earlier this year in June 2017 with a plan to install a total of five (5) new Pedestrian Overhead Crossings along the EBD Road. The Bank is financing the total cost of construction and supervision amounting to about US$2.2 million. In addition, these crossings will benefit from unique features including a solar powered back-up lighting system along with elevators to facilitate the elderly, pregnant women and people with disability.

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Pedestrian Overpass at Providence, East Bank Demerara. Photo Credit. Clevern Liddell. 2017

Now thinking about the young mother and daughter who daringly crossed the road… if they were walking in the middle of the road above the traffic, seems like that might be safer, what do you think? How many more Pedestrian Overhead Crossings need to be installed?

The IDB continues to improve lives in Guyana by making roads safer. This landmark project is expected to be completed during the first semester of 2018 with all five Pedestrian Overhead Crossings fully outfitted and operational helping to reduce exposure of pedestrians to fatal road incidents.

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About our Guest Blogger

Clevern Liddell, Stimulator of Positive Change

Clevern works in the Operations Department at the IDB Country Office in Guyana. As an Operations Senior Analyst, she provides key inputs for the Bank’s portfolio analysis and works with various development projects across multiple sectors including transport, trade and public sector management.  Passionate about sustainable development, everyday she gets to share her expertise in project management and procurement to help deliver project results to Guyanese beneficiaries which improves lives. Clevern comes from a consulting background and is an advocate for evidence-based decision making, strategic planning, innovative ideas and results. Clevern has a Bsc in Economics and holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Bradford and a Diploma in Procurement and Supply Chain Management from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS).

 

Reverse Innovation and the Poor

Innovation Farm

Innovation Redefined

The elimination of poverty is one of the most complex endeavours to undertake.  In the decades since the establishment of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1864 as the first international development agency, none have yet innovated a solution largely because they have focused on the wrong goals and wrong systems for eliminating poverty. 

Innovation starts with people and vulnerable people are both capable of innovating and willing to work at it, not just individually but also with others. Collaboration between vulnerable people and development agencies will be crucial to our success at finding innovative solutions to poverty.

People Driven

Poverty elimination requires people driven and not government driven solutions.

I have always advocated to my colleagues at the Inter-American Development Bank that poor people know more than anyone else, the solutions to their vulnerability; a process called reverse innovation. Poverty elimination requires people driven and not government driven solutions. Perhaps the single most important factor in the limited impact of so many development projects supported by government and development agencies is the lack of influence allowed poor people in the conception, design, mobilization and implementation of the solutions.  We in the development community need to begin to look for the vulnerable groups of people that we can collaborate with and reach consensus solutions.

Diversity Will Help Drive Innovation in Development

Poor people can be considered the most innovative to be able to survive daily vulnerabilities and with little resources.

Innovation which is essentially ideas, comes from anywhere and anyone. Part of the solution to eliminating poverty is that magic happens at intersections, when the mindsets and ideas of vulnerable people from different circumstances and life experiences collide with the development thinking. People who experience poverty and vulnerability are the most innovative since they are able to survive daily vulnerabilities on very little resources. Poor think differently and come up with different solutions that can make life better for vulnerable people. 

Just having a diverse group of vulnerable people working together on development projects promotes innovative thinking.  Poverty elimination now requires that  vulnerable people be allowed to influence, conceptualize, design and implement the sustainable solutions to their vulnerabilities.

New Approaches With The Poor

What has been missing from the development approach has been the views of poor people who live with vulnerabilities and have the legitimate right to speak up for themselves and on behalf of their communities, and to negotiate and participate in the development process.  Perhaps the time has come for the role of development practitioners to be redefined away from being talkers, implementers and solution generators to being listeners, facilitators and funders of community generated solutions. 
This approach is innovative but could prove a difficult challenge for development professionals as poor people will question many of our conclusions, the accuracy of our “knowledge” and the relevancy of our proposals.  Poor people will raise questions we find uncomfortable, including who has the legitimacy to speak about the needs and priorities of poor people.
The only way to build a future where poverty is rolled back is to invest our time and effort in building a development driven relationship with poor people and their communities. 
Learn more about reverse innovation by viewing these videos.

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT UNCERTAINTY OR OPPORTUNITY?

The United States have long presented itself as a leader in global development. It is the single largest donor  in humanitarian and development efforts, with sizable contributions to development banks like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.  Within the United Nations system, the U.S. remains the largest funder of the U.N. as a whole championing the urgency of meeting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The Trump Administration announced it would slash US contributions to the UN system, discontinue its contribution to the IDB Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) that supports pilot development projects and withdraw from the Parris Climate AgreementThat would have a major impact not in money but in ideas

The consequences of potential declines in U.S. contributions to global development regimes and exit from agreements could result in a lost of seats and influence at important international policy tables with emerging powers like China and the new UK free European block deciding to step up and replace the US as the lead funders and influencers on global development ideas.  In confronting scenarios like these, the U.S. needs to ask itself one foremost question: amid a period of rapid and unpredictable global change, how much responsibility does it want to take on in shaping the world’s new normal?

As some emerging countries like China, India and Brazil become more innovative, opportunities for new entrants to the development arena will be created.  Already we are seeing countries buffeting the global norms and institutions that underpin the globalized economy as they feel that the U.S. is no longer a reliable partner committed to upholding the liberal economic order as we have seen Germany tell the US it had the wrong address when the administration tried to open trade talks with Germany telling the US “trade policy is the responsibility of the European Union.”

Developing countries have not seriously begun to think through the consequences of Trump’s policies for global development but it is creating great opportunities in some parts of the world. Countries whose development interests clash with the United States may have opportunities to win gains at the policy tables while the United States, the global hegemon, is distracted. In other parts of the world, institutions are likely to recalibrate their behavior, and in particular their dependence on the United States. They will not want their development priorities to rely entirely on a country that pursues erratic policies and hence will start to hedge their bets. If the current U.S. administration has decided that it no longer needs to rely on international institutions as much as in the past, the influencers at those policy tables are deciding that they cannot rely on the United States anymore and will start to forge their own arrangements, which will diminish the U.S. ability to influence their actions and decisions.

 

HOW THE WORLD MADE RELIGION A SCAPEGOAT FOR CONFLICT.

In this new, not so brave world, pervasive and violent conflicts are not and will not erupt because of religion but increasingly from civilizations which are culturally different. The world is in the simultaneous process of fragmentation and integration not because of religious difference, but because of a “Clash of Civilizations

The results of the 2016 BREXIT referendum, the US elections and the French 2017 Presidential front-runner whose campaign claims that French traditions are under threat from immigrants and Islamic fundamentalism is highlighting the significant changes and differences that is occurring in our civilization today. Civilization is a cultural entity which involves language, values, norms, ideals, modes of thinking of successive generations, a way of life, religion, customs, etc. However, of all the objective elements that define civilizations,  religion is the defining characteristic of civilizations, as Christopher Dawson said “the great religions are the foundations on which the great civilization rests“.

Of the five “world religions”, four – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Confucianism – are associated with the world’s major civilizations (Sinic, Japanese, Hindu, Islamic, Orthodox and Western). The fifth religion, Buddhism is not associated with any civilization.

The most dramatic and significant contacts between civilizations were when people from one civilization conquered and eliminated or subjected the people of another civilization. As Geoffrey Parker observed, “the rise of the West depended upon the exercise of force“. To prove the point, he posits that the West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas, values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence to colonize territories as Europeans controlled 84% of the earth’s surface by 1914.

Western civilization however, has never generated a religion.  But globalization, championed by the West, have caused states and governments to lose the ability to control the flow of ideas, money, technology, goods and people; and civilization is bringing with it all of its major elements including religion.

Since Western civilization has not generated any major religion, its unfamiliarity with religion is at the root of its unwillingness to tolerate the  opinions, belief and practices of other civilizations or to accommodate religious diversity. Many in the UK who voted to leave the European Union (EU), voted to leave because they want to stop immigration into the UK and the US elected a President who wants to restrict the entry of the entire Islamic civilization into the United States under the assumption that Muslims are a threat to the US national security.

The real issue is that globalization has enabled the rise of populist movements and the West finds itself dealing with multiple identity crises, and has erroneously framed religion as the cause for the crisis of global insecurity and conflict. It is therefore in the interest of the powers of Western civilization to work with the Islamic civilization to address terrorism and fundamentalism. The level of cooperation will need to go beyond conventional security partnerships to tackle the deeply rooted political causes and ideological justifications of conflict.

We have allowed our civilization to outrun our culture; we have allowed our technology to outdistance our theology and for this reason we find ourselves caught up with many problems.“
—Martin Luther King, “Sermon at Temple Israel of Hollywood“ American Rhetoric (delivered February 26, 1965)

 

FOR THE CARIBBEAN, GOOD LIVING NAH LANG LIFE.

This is a re-posted blog of 2014 exploring the development challenges the Caribbean faces in diversifying its dependence away from the traditional development paradigms and re-constructing regional development to help it punch above it weight as small island states.

“Good living nah lang life” is an African Guyanese proverb that translates to mean that the good life won’t continue indefinitely without sustained contribution from the one giving or living it and that nothing free and easy lasts forever.  I could not help wonder if this proverb can very well reflect the state of Caribbean development ……..TO READ REST OF THIS BLOG CLICK ON THIS LINK THE CHALLENGES FACING THE CARIBBEAN BLOCK

 

TRUTH, LIES AND CORRUPTION

Corruption has a long history dating back to the 14th century. The Latin etymology of the word corruptus means to “destroy” or “spoil” but the truth is that the earliest Book of the holy bible, Genesis chapter 6 verse 12 similarly describes a world before the flood where ‘everyone on earth was corrupt‘ (New Living Translation of the Holy Bible). Genesis 6:12 describes a world filled with structural violence and in the absence of any well-regulated government it is easy to imagine what evils would arise. The influential, rich, powerful and connected did what was right in their own eyes, and having no fear of God, destruction and misery are in their ways.

The Mechanics of Corruption

To understand the mechanics of corruption, you have to pay attention to the extensive conflicts of interest, intricate web of connections, widespread clientelism – where goods or services are exchanged for political support – and the intimate relationships between wealth accumulation and politics are the distinctive features of corruption. And they are all too common in the political world.

Corruption arises from institutional attributes of the state and societal attitudes toward formal political processes. Institutional attributes that encourage corruption include the wide authority of the state, which offers significant opportunities for corruption; minimal accountability, which reduces the cost of corrupt behavior; and perverse incentives in government procurement and contracting, which induce self-serving rather than public-serving behavior. Societal attitudes fostering corruption include allegiance to personal loyalties over objective rules, low legitimacy of government, and dominance of a political party or ruling elite over political and economic processes.

Rolling Back the Lies and Corruption

Possible responses to these underlying causes of corruption in Guyana include institutional reforms to limit authority, improve accountability, and realign incentives, as well as societal reforms to change attitudes and mobilize political will for sustained anti-corruption interventions. A strategy must be tailored to fit the particular circumstances of this country, the Government needs to design a strategy that requires assessing the level, forms, and causes of corruption for Guyana as a whole and for specific government institutions.  In particular, strategy formulation requires taking a hard look at the level of political will for anti-corruption reform in government and civil society.  Corruption in state agencies does not exist in isolation. To some extent, it is a manifestation of the prevailing ethical standards in the public sector. If ruling politicians and senior civil servants, who are supposed to uphold integrity in the public sector, are seen to be corrupt, if public office is generally viewed as an asset to be exploited for personal benefit, if public servants have no compunctions about flaunting ill-gotten wealth, it becomes very difficult for officers to remain immune to the lure of illicit enrichment.

Opportunities for reform must stem from reformists’ tendencies within the government, public outrage over scandals or an opposition movement.  Civil society must take the lead and focus on societal measures to increase awareness of the problem and develop a constituency for reform.  The real issue which needs to be addressed, however, is the environment within Guyana which permits public officials to stray so far from their mission in the first instance. It starts at the top. If people in the society or within the public sector don’t have confidence in or respect for the politicians or executives managing the government, it’s going to be reflected within the ministries and agencies.

I would therefore encourage the government to seriously consider aligning the anti-corruption agenda to national initiatives such as a National Anti-Corruption Policy (NACP) as an explicit national integrity agenda that would emerge with commitment to succeed, shared jointly by civil society, the private sector community and the government.

CRASH AND LEARN

Recently I have been dismayed by society’s; even some of the closest people I know, obsession with the failures of others.  So I set out in the opposite direction to become interested in the successes of others even after my own failures.  What I discovered was surprising.  We have always stigmatized failure to the point that we wish to avoid it and hide it when we experience it.  No one can succeed every time, so what do we do with failure when it occurs?  Great people aren’t just those who succeed, but those smart enough to recognize that failure sows the seeds of future success.  In life as in business, failure comes with the territory. Often it takes the form of a motivating moment that makes future success possible. “Failure” and “losing” are part of the experience of being alive and competitive, yet we seem to have a nagging fear of failure – and it often times prevents us from succeeding.  I have encountered many people who would like to start their own businesses, but….they fear that no one will buy their product or service, they’re not very good at selling or they won’t make enough money to live on.  Such uncertainties are a cue to take action: to step up and do the research or get the training needed to make their dreams come true.

As part  of life’s processes, we should be encouraged to “fail fast”, but don’t just overlook failure; embrace it.  When we embrace our failures, we have now made mistakes that we’re never likely to make again.  “In some ways, if you’ve failed well, that’s a good thing”.  ‘Failing well’ means that you made good decisions but maybe things or circumstances were beyond your control.  You could go after a dream with a lot of potential and make great decisions and fail, and society would look at the failure and frown on you and the failure, which is totally flawed, because if you’re not failing, oftentimes it means you are not trying to succeed.

We must adopt more of this fail-and-learn philosophy

Do you have what it takes to make peace with failure? The secret to success is to use failure as a tool that helps you to grow and improve.  You need to know where you are coming from and what are those experiences that are adding to your success.  We must appreciate those lessons on an ongoing basis so that they become part of your everyday behaviours.  As one Fortune 500 executive said, ” failure and defeat are life’s greatest teachers.

Here are some ways of creating a learning from failure:

  • Be open minded about your failures.  Discuss your mistakes and what you have learned from them, and encourage others to do the same.  In today’s world where everything is changing so fast, you have got to keep trying new things and there is no way you are going to hit it out of the park every time.
  • Publicly celebrate both successes and failure in your life experiences.
  • Explore every failure.  Find out what happened so it doesn’t happen again.
  • Fail smarter. Invite constructive criticism of your plans and ideas.

Courage to confront failure doesn’t always roar, sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering ‘I will try again tomorrow…I will try again tomorrow’…

As the President of a company once told his staff: “If you don’t make a mistake, you’re fired”  The fundamental rule of failure is that the only way to avoid it, is to stop trying to succeed.

Fail fast, fail smart, win big my friends.

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