The power of the exhibition
Guyana is home to exhibitors from across the region. The focus is on alternative building material in the wake of rising prices of traditional material such as wood, cement and even steel. Over the past two years, one of the traditional building materials, cement experienced a twenty-five percent hike in price.
Wood has long been experiencing the same rising prices largely due to pressures by the people who have the global environment at heart. This interest forced the Guyana Government to take certain steps which in turn forced loggers to go deeper into the forest at greater cost.
This move to alternative building material is nothing new. The rest of the world cognizant of dwindling resources has been concentrating on such things as wood waste for beta board and other products that are used inside the home. They have also been concentrating on man-made materials that could withstand pressure and are therefore suitable for the exterior of homes.
To its credit, the Ministry of Housing has been able to tap into exhibitors from those more advanced countries. One of them is a Chinese company which is coming to undertake a three-pronged programme. One aspect of the programme is to establish a wood waste project; the other is to establish a housing community on a five square-kilometer plot of land.
Of interest, is the fact that the Chinese contractor intends to have the focus be on environmentally-friendly things such as using solar power. This would be a remarkable development especially since there is a marked dependence on fossil-fuel provided electricity.
The Chinese are among the most enterprising investors in this corner of the world. In the first instance they are coming from one of the world’s largest growing economies. Chinese companies are on the verge of becoming the major contractors in the region. In Guyana they have been identified to construct the Marriott Hotel, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, the Amaila Falls hydro-electric facility, the communication cable for the One Laptop Per Family project, the cable to secure information generated by Guyana Power and Light and producing the computers for the One Laptop Per Family project.
Put together, these projects cost billions of dollars. Now this company coming to invest in the housing sector is talking about employing 20,000 Guyanese and investing US$1 billion.
This must be the largest investment since Guyana has been holding exhibitions of any kind. The organizers of these exhibitions have always been saying that the main purpose of the exhibitions is to open up the local productive sector to the foreign investor. They are also intended to create markets for those things produced locally.
But others know the power of exhibitions hosted in Guyana. The result is that exhibitors have come from Barbados, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. There are also exhibitors from India. The peculiar thing about the exhibitions is that they also highlight the best that Guyanese have to offer. We always showcase the best but we often fail to replicate the efforts that spur us to mount exhibits that could hold their own in any part of the world. Given Guyanese entrepreneurship, this country should have been flooded with requests stemming from those things exhibited. We once exported pre-fabricated homes because those entrepreneurs who visited our exhibits saw the potential. Something went wrong and after a while we simply could not produce enough of the houses for export.
We have also produced wooden furniture for export but like so many things, this too became a thing of the past. Visitors would be attracted to some of the things that we can produce but whether we can satisfy a market with large quantities is left to be seen.
The cost of the building exposition is not yet known. We do know that the investors paid handsomely to establish the booths and we know that the government spent a lot of money on the infrastructure for the exposition. We also know that Guyana has moved a long way from the days when token exhibitors mounted their wares to grab attention.
It is left to be seen the growth that would materialise from this building exposition.