– Int’l oil expert
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
The worst thing that the people of Guyana, or any other oil producing country, can do is to sit passively while policy makers take actions that can change your lives for the better, worse or worst. That fact was impressed upon those who recently attended a lecture by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Shoreline Energy International, Kola Karim who is also the World Economic Forum Youth Leader 2008 honouree. Shoreline International is a Nigerian conglomerate with interests in oil and gas, power generation, engineering, commodities trading, infrastructure and construction across sub-Saharan Africa.
The lecture was held at Marian Academy’s auditorium. Karim touched on a wide range of issues relating to the theme of his lecture, “Entrepreneurship and its role in using the country’s natural resources to establish a cooperative social contract for all of Guyana.”
In a series of articles this newspaper will highlight the many issues that Karim spoke about.
It is often said that oil can be a blessing or a curse but Karim does not subscribe to that. He said that oil is always a blessing; it’s the management of the resource that sometimes turns out to be a curse. Karim said that ever since he was invited by Guyanese businessman, Stanley Ming, to give a presentation in Guyana, he has been reading everything about Guyana and looking at the country’s uniqueness, most of which can be used to its advantage.
The international billionaire said that Guyana has a tremendous opportunity ahead and if handled well, oil can be the country’s proverbial goose that lays the golden egg. He said that the goose needs to be protected and that is why Guyanese must make it their business to find out what is going on in preparation for first oil. In fact, Karim said that the worst action that Guyanese citizens can take at this time is no action at all. He impressed upon a mixed audience of grassroots, policy makers and entrepreneurs that the time is now to demand that the best provisions are made. Karim said that Guyanese must demand that the best steps are made to protect the environment and that a very strong Local Content Policy is set up and implemented as early as possible. “Citizens need to stand up,” he said.
Karim noted Guyana’s small population and said that the pie is big enough to share for every Guyanese and nothing short of that should be accepted.
Karim is originally from Nigeria and is no stranger to the issues that can face oil producing countries. He said that, very often, oil companies are able to announce billions of dollars in profits yearly, while the masses see no improved standard of living from the exploitation of their resource. He said that Guyana has too small a population for a reality where the masses are not all financially well off when it is considered the resource that is to be pumped out of the ground.
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