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How Guyana Became Latin America’s Leading Development Lab

Guyana is on track to become the world’s largest oil producer per capita, but is aiming to diversify its economy by investing heavily in hydro, solar, and wind power. By using its fossil-fuel windfalls to drive sustainable socioeconomic development, Guyana offers a promising model for other oil-rich developing countries.

BOGOTÁ – Guyana is on the cusp of a profound socioeconomic transformation unlike any seen in Latin America and the Caribbean. Despite its small population of roughly 800,000, it boasts the world’s fastest-growing economy. According to the World Bank, its GDP per capita, which surged by 62.5% in 2022 alone, now exceeds that of major Latin American economies like Mexico and Brazil.

Guyana’s economic boom is fueled by its vast oil reserves, estimated to exceed 11 billion barrels. After more than doubling its oil output in 2022, the country is on track to produce more than 800,000 barrels per day by 2025. To put this in perspective, Guyana’s oil production is on par with those of much larger countries like Colombia, which has a population of 52 million. Guyana is expected to overtake Kuwait and the other Gulf countries and become the world’s biggest oil producer per capita.

But Guyana is taking a unique approach to its newfound oil wealth. Under the leadership of President Irfaan Ali, the Guyanese government aims to leverage its fossil-fuel windfalls to combat poverty and accelerate its clean-energy transition. By investing heavily in renewable sources like hydro, solar, and wind power, the country aims to reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons, lower energy costs, and attract industrial and agricultural investments. With its proximity to the equator and low population density, it has the potential to become an attractive destination for international investors.