The conclusion from multiple studies presented by international financial organizations is the tremendous impact on the economies of the Latin American countries due to the global health crisis caused by the Coronavirus COVID19 pandemic. A recent report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted economic growth for the region close to 4% negative for LATAM countries, and a fact that went unnoticed by many, was the most relevant information of Guyana’s economic growth close to 50% making it the fastest growing economy in the world, by far, even during this crisis.
Guyana, a country located in the northeast of South America, officially known as the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, became independent from the British crown since 1966, found recently important oil fields within its territory projecting the country into the big leagues of the global oil players, going from 220k bpd to over a million in 2020/2021. This growth will place the country as the highest oil production per capita in the world in the coming years considering its mere 780,000 inhabitants.
Guyana has a very promising future despite the many obstacles that it will have to overcome. Territorial claims by Venezuela on the Essequibo region that represents almost 74% of its current territory where precisely the main oil fields are located (Venezuelans already knew of that hidden wealth). Its other neighbor, Suriname, also claims a piece of the Guyanese southeastern territory, called the Triangle of the New River or Tigri Region, which currently represents 7% of the country.
However, Guyana’s privilege to be part of the British Commonwealth, provides them with a strong support against claims from foreign forces on its territory and wealth. Throughout its short history since independence, the country has had modest economic growth based mostly on basic polymetallic mining & agricultural industry, as well as subsidies from London. Now, the oil bonanza will help to overcome the difficulties that will arise for its necessary economic and social transformation in the coming decades, once oil barrel prices recover from what has been lost in 2020.
So Guyana could quickly become one of the most prosperous nations per capita in the hemisphere, and even in the world, and an increasingly resonant voice in South America. However, the country must overcome the widespread and intoxicating new rich syndrome of carelessly spending money but not investing it appropriately. It is critical for the country to maintain strong democratic institutions so they can build a strong wall that contains the corrupting appetite that plays in those situations and finally, prepare local human resources and receive selective immigration to help sustain the socio-economic growth necessary for the development of its transformation as a nation with the wealth it has found almost by surprise.