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Trade mission concerning sustainable energy on the islands
During the thirteenth trade mission of InterExpo in cooperation with the foundation “Koninkrijkssamenwerking” (SKS) (Kingdom Cooperation), representatives of the six islands – Curaçao, St. Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba – spoke with many companies. The theme this year was “the possibility of sustainable energy on the islands”.
The trade mission took place on November 25 and 26 at Hotel des Indes in The Hague.
According to various parties, it is of importance that we work towards saving energy. President-director Anthon Casperson of Aqualectra says that Curaçao consumes 10 million cubic meters of drinking water per year. 20 Percent hereof is meant to be re-used, the rest disappears in septic tanks. Both the demand for drinking water and the demand for electricity increase. Casperson: “We want to make sure that everyone on the island has a water and electricity connection around 2015.” So it is expected that there are chances for investors regarding sustainable energy.
According to Bob Schulte of Eco-Power Project, the energy project, notably by means of windmills, is a good example for other islands: the energy needed is generated by wind turbines for 40 to 45 percent. A plant runs on diesel, but that should be converted to bio-oil. Schulte: “Because of the growing demand for electricity, expansion is necessary.”
Another interesting point for companies is that the economic recession largely passed the island by. The minister plenipotentiary Sheldry Osepa (Curaçao): “We were even able to realize one percent growth. Tourism stayed at the same level, inflation was low, and investments in real estate remained at the same level.” Yet, according to Cynthia Ortega-Martijn (Christian Union), one has to be careful with regard to uncontrolled economic growth: “We should not only think of the profit, but also of the people’s welfare.”
According to Frank Kunneman, the integrity in the new Kingdom situation is important. He looked at how Netherlands citizens think of integrity in the Caribbean Netherlands, and how, vice versa, the islands think of integrity in the Netherlands. There are clearly different perceptions in this respect. On the islands, one always sees a warning finger raised by the Netherlands, but the Netherlands itself does not practice its own moral lessons. The Netherlands assumes with regard to the islands that one is lying in a hammock all day and handling black money.
According to the Aruban prime-minister Mike Eman, the islands have to bury the hatchet of old times. “We have to seek more cooperation with each other. We can all profit from it.” He regretted that the relations with the Kingdom have become extinct. “While we can also achieve more together in this case. We have a strategic position and can have an intermediary position towards Europe.” He stated that the debts of Curaçao and St. Maarten had been erased, it is true, but that the Netherlands could make some requirements in exchange.
Bionda Fonseca, managing director CDS, believes that her company has high technical standards and meets all European requirements in this field. “Investing in the islands is useful because they have a strategic position. There are cultural differences between the islands, but the infrastructure is stable and they have the advantage of the language.”
InterExpo stated afterwards that the meeting met its expectations. “All those involved made contacts that are hopefully followed up well. In May of next year we have a business trip planned to the islands and Surinam. On that occasion interested parties can personally see everything on site and that provides the opportunity of concrete contracts.”
Source: local newspaper “Amigoe” dated 8 December 2010
Frank Kunneman, managing partner at the law firm VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne, was the keynote speaker at the dinner event in the Hague, The Netherlands, during the trade mission.