Home Letters Ignorance of oil, and the mystery of the missing guest
President Irfaan Ali spoke far and wide, and not just on oil/gas at Tuesday’s Carlton House Investment Seminar in London. In addition to his widely reported discourse on investment opportunities and the need to grab them, he addressed the widespread ignorance within Guyana about oil and the oil economy.
In his words, “Ignorance is a choice”, and is not inevitable. “It is not a condition, but (is) self-imposed”, and some people “choose to preserve ignorance for selfish reasons”. He was very unsympathetic to those who chose not to learn more about the transformation of the country. “Silence is the greatest killer”, he said, but he was happy to leave the levels of knowledge and ignorance “to unravel”.
The President was speaking to a packed room full of potential investors in the ornate setting of the British Academy in Carlton House. The seminar was arranged by the Caribbean Council, and the audience was 90% male,90% white, with interests ranging from road building to electricity transformers, to vetting procedures for staff, and putative investment partners. Plenty with ‘capital’ on their business card.
The President, one Cabinet Minister, at least two British High Commissioners and four CEOs of companies in Guyana were in attendance. The most notable and noticed absentee was the newly appointed Guyana High Commissioner to the UK, Rajendra Singh. He was said to be delayed by a ‘court matter’ in New York. Rather inconvenient at such a gathering of top men (and some women) with money.
President Ali was left to work the room by himself. He did that very well. Later, in his packed schedule, were a reception on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament and a meeting with the Guyanese diaspora in the UK. The previous President avoided that encounter.