Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds. (FP)

Regional developers now have access to more financial assistance for their projects to help make regional countries more energy self-sufficient, with the launch of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) Project Preparation Facility and Credit Risk Abatement Facility (CRAF).

Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, in his welcome remarks during the official launch of the CCREEE at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today, said the financial assistance would ensure that “no one is left behind in our quest for self-sufficiency and independence in the supply and generation of energy”.

He added: “In the current, difficult global economic environment, it is also critical that there be more borrowing and financial flexibility opportunities available to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their quest to fund renewable and energy efficiency projects. 

“In this regard, I am pleased that CRAF will now be available to provide much needed credit risk guarantees to financiers and also targeted technical assistance to build capacity among SMEs, financiers and other stakeholders within CARICOM member states.”   

Minister Symmonds said both facilities would address long-standing challenges faced by many CARICOM member states that are striving to achieve both regional and national targets in the area of energy transformation.

Acknowledging that there are many sources of international funding to finance the transition to more sustainable energy sources, the Minister lamented that the Caribbean region remains “hindered and restricted in its ability to adequately access such financing”.

“Across this region, the myriad challenges faced include project preparation, technical assistance, project execution, the ability to properly monitor and evaluate the success of projects, the access to the right types of financing to suit our specific and unique needs and of course, access to financing that is flexible enough to consider the devastating burden of natural disasters such as hurricanes … which may visit us at any time during the period June to November annually and can wreak havoc on our economies and greatly retard our pace of development,” Minister Symmonds emphasised.

He also commended the Project Management Unit within his Ministry as being responsible for a more efficient management of renewable energy projects.

Mr. Symmonds said the Strategic Unit, headed by a Permanent Secretary, now had adequate staffing levels and was responsible for project management, monitoring and evaluation, procurement; administrative support; technical support; financial management; public education and communication.

“Having this Strategic Unit has made the management of renewable energy projects more practicable. It has also allowed for a deeper focus on the implementation activities tied to the 2030 target,” the Minister underlined.

The highlight of the launch was the cooperation agreement signing between Rodinald Soomer of the CARICOM Development Fund and the Executive Director of CCREEE, Dr. Gary Jackson.

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