Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) expressed its readiness to partner Ghana and other African countries to help develop their natural gas resources on mutual grounds, emphasising that it has over 106 years experience in the global petroleum industry.
The High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago, H.E Nyahuma Mentuhotep Obika, based in Lagos, Nigeria but accredited to Ghana, Cameroon, Liberia and other African countries made the call at a cocktail reception to mark his country’s 38th Republic Day in Accra.
He stressed: “The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is in an enviable position to be the second nation in the world to be fully powered by natural gas. Qatar is the first such nation. There are only two nations in the entire world that are powered 100% by natural gas”.
“So, the time has come for Trinidadians to help our African brothers to develop their natural gas to boost their economies,” Mr Obika told the participants at the well-organised reception. The participants included members of the diplomatic community, Members of Parliament, Minister of State, business executives and senior officials of Republic Bank.
Today, because Trinidadians have been monetising its natural gas resources since the 1960s, the country has benefited tremendously as a result.
He noted the formation of the country’s National Gas Company (NGC) which was established in 1979 and is the flagship company of the nation’s economy. The NGC is 100% owned by the Trinidadian State.
According to the current Chairman of the NGC, Roop Chan Chadeesingh, the company is involved in everything that is positive in the country. For instance this year, NGC made $1.2 billion profits before taxes. In 2010 alone, NGC earned $.5 billion in profits, representing an increase of 200% over the past four years.
He added: “All of our power in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago comes from natural gas”. NGC currently produces about four billion cubic feet of gas. Two billion cubic feet of that gas per day goes to Atlantic, a producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) where four trains sell energy to the whole world.
The other two billion cubic feet, the Trinidadian High Commissioner explained is sold the various companies on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate and elsewhere.
The Point Lisas Industrial Estate houses a number of plants, including urea, ammonia and methanol plants. The NGC supplies gas to the steel plant, to Power Generation Company of Trinidad & Tobago Ltd which generates electric power through gas-fired power generation plants.
In the field of banking, Mr Obika could not hide his joy but than to say that; “the High Commission of Trinidad and Tobago is very proud of the fact that Republic Bank has had the vision to establish a physical presence on the African continent with the Republic of Ghana being chosen as the base in this regard”.
The coming of the Republic Bank into the financial sector in Ghana, he explained, could only lead to greater levels of economic integration and development for both countries.
To this end he emphasised: “The entire business community in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has been motivated by this unprecedented and visionary decision taken by Republic Bank T&T Ltd.”
Mr Obika however lamented that there was no African bank in the Caribbean, saying: “The time has come to address this anomaly.”
The Executive Director of Republic Bank T&T Ltd, Derwin Howell said: “The bank’s presence in Ghana is more of a return to its origins than a step into new plains as it continues to bring the markets and people of the Caribbean and Africa together”.
The bank he indicated remains dedicated to making a difference among its stakeholders in all the markets it serves in line with its slogan-”We’re the One for You”.
Recounting Trinidad and Tobago and Ghana’s relationship, the Honorary Consul of T&T, H.E. Hilton John Mitchell observed that the existing positive relationship between the countries was an indication of how far Trinidad and Tobago and Ghana have come as nations.
According to him, Trinidad and Tobago nationals moved to Ghana in the 1960s in response to a call by Ghana’s first President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to the diaspora to come and help build a new Africa because of the links and good relations between the two countries.
Instructively, Trinidad and Tobago with a population of about 1.4 million people became a Republic on 24th September 1976 but gained independence from the British on 31st August, 1962.