Guyana is a South American country on the North Atlantic cost, defined by its dense rainforests. With a population of only 782,766 according to the World Bank, it doesn’t necessarily seem like the place in which business would thrive. Present day Guyana reflects its British and Dutch colonial past; it is the only English-speaking country in South America. Since its independence in 1966, Guyana’s main assets have been its natural resources, which include rainforests, sugar plantations, rice and gold.
During the pandemic we have seen economic regression on a massive scale. The IMF estimates that the global economy shrunk by 4.4% in 2020 as unemployment rose in all major countries. Although the world has been suffering throughout the course of this pandemic, Guyana is estimated to have seen economic growth of approximately 53% during 2020. So why has Guyana prospered as the rest of the world suffers?
The reason for this unprecedented growth is because Guyana has the highest amount of oil for each individual person of any country in the world. Further, we do not know how much oil the country currently has because production has only recently begun. The country is in the process of becoming a major oil producer as companies including Exxon Mobil Corp, Tullow Oil Plc., CNOOC Ltd. and Hess Corporation invest in the country.
This newly discovered oil has given Guyana a projected annual economic growth between 10-30% for nearly the next decade. That being said, the future of Guyana and the perpetuation of this economic growth is up for speculation.
This sudden windfall is not a panacea for all of Guyana’s various ills. Guyana is one of South America’s poorest countries. It has had a bad history of governance, has a poor education system and was ranked 134 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Ranking index. This growth may be short lived if Guyana does not make significant reforms in those areas.