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Jamaica After Obama: Obama visit improved energy prospects for Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | April 6, 2016 | 4:00 AMAndre Poyser
Kelly Tomblin

Kelly Tomblin, president and chief executive officer of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), is arguing that the visit of United States President Barack Obama to Jamaica last year has improved the energy prospects for the island.

Tomblin, one of the participants in a Gleaner project ahead of Friday's one-year anniversary of Obama's visit, said: "Obama's visit gave Jamaica greater strength in gas negotiations with gas suppliers by signalling support for US gas to Jamaica, thus increasing competition and the number of available suppliers and supporting greater optimisation of Jamaica's renewable resource."

During his two-day visit to the island, Obama announced the formation of an energy fund to finance clean-energy projects in the region. He made the announcement at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-US Summit.

"Caribbean countries have one of the highest energy costs in the world. Today, we are announcing new partnerships and a new fund to mobilise private-sector projects in clean energy for the Caribbean and Central America," he said at the conclusion of the summit.

 

OPPORTUNITIES NEEDED

 

The energy fund now forms part of the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, which aims to reduce the region's reliance on fossil fuels.

According to Tomblin: "Obama's visit created more opportunities throughout the energy sector by voicing confidence in Jamaica's landscape and supporting US investment in Jamaica's energy sector."

She called for Jamaica to act fast in capitalising on the opportunities created in the energy sector by the initiatives announced by Obama.

"The only threat exposed during Obama's visit was the truth that if we don't act fast, other Caribbean countries will take advantage of the new open door in the energy market and secure the hub position," she said.

In giving further reflections on the anniversary of the visit, Tomblin highlighted the need for Jamaica to position itself as the hub for the provision of gasolene as a cheaper source of energy.

"Let's make sure we step fully into this moment he opened up by driving this gas-procurement process through quickly and position Jamaica as an obvious hub for that product which will be key for our neighbours to meet their overall environmental commitments," she said.

"We cannot afford bureaucracy now."

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com