Energy diversification will reduce bill - Rainford
Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
Angella Rainford, managing director of UK-based Rekamniar Frontier Ventures, is confident that Jamaica's move to diversify the energy sector will result in an almost immediate reduction in the country's oil bill.
Jamaica's oil imports amounted to US$2.4 billion in 2011.
"Once the plants are commissioned, you should see a fairly instantaneous reduction, as you will be substituting power that otherwise would be generated using oil," said Rainford, in an interview with The Gleaner recently.
Rainford's company has joined forces with French group Neoen to form a local based consortium, Eight Rivers Energy Company, which is on the hunt for potential investment opportunities for renewable-energy projects in Jamaica.
The group is among 20 entities that responded to the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) request for proposals to develop generate capacity of up to 115MW of energy from renewable sources.
The additional 115MW of renewable energy is expected to provide some 400,000MW hours of electricity annually, potentially reducing Jamaica's oil import expenditure by US$55 million.
According to data from the OUR website, Eight Rivers Energy Company submitted a proposal for a 25MW or a 40MW plant for Paradise Park in Westmoreland, costing U$58.5 million and U$91.0 million, respectively.
The group also proposed a 20MW plant for Long Pond, Trelawny, at a cost of U$47.0 million.
bureaucratic red tape
It is not the first time this farm girl from the hills of St Ann has made an attempt to invest in one of Jamaica's critical industries. She was forced to pull the plug on the previous effort after the perennial bureaucratic red tape frustrated her clients.
"One of the investor's concerns with Jamaica is that projects like these are announced, but never materialises," she said, while adding "it's not something that we can afford to be repeated. We are now operating in a global market place and we need to be competitive to attract investment."
"I will never stop believing and pushing for investments in my country," she said.
Rainford has travelled to several Latin American and West African countries over the past years and this has driven her passion for economic development, primarily through investments in emerging markets.
"There are a lot of groups in the energy markets who don't know how to interface with foreign investors, but that is my training," the Harvard graduate explain.
"I am more about private-equity investment, particularly in emerging markets like Jamaica, my job is to get the project financing together, get the money to make it happen," she added.
Rekamniar Frontier Ventures is currently active in developing business opportunities in other parts of the world, identifying business opportunities in frontier markets, and linking them to international investors with the technical expertise and financial backing.