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JIS News

In an effort to provide viable options for tackling the energy crisis which Jamaica and the world at large currently faces, 10 Jamaicans were recently sent to Seoul, South Korea to participate in an energy diversification training course.
The 10 participants, who were selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, comprised three persons from the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), one from the Ministry of Energy, one from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), one from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), two from the University of Technology (UTech) and two from the St. Catherine Parish Council.
The training course titled ‘Energy Diversification – Conversion to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG),’ which was sponsored by the Government of the Republic of Korea, sought to provide opportunities to the participants, to gain firsthand knowledge of Korea’s development, especially with regards to the successful transition of their energy source from fossil fuel to natural gas.
“As you are well aware, oil price hike these days is a big burden for every Government in the world and Jamaica is no exception. The Jamaican Government has been trying its best to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel, especially oil. The Jamaican Government feels the necessity to diversify energy sources from almost 100 per cent of oil to natural gas and other alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind energy,” explains Charge d’Affaires and Consul General of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Hosung Lee.
“Fortunately, my country has a lot of experience in the diversification of our energy sources for economic development,” he adds.
He tells JIS News that even though the country is benefitting from concessionary prices and conditions for importing oil from Venezuela based on the PetroCaribe agreement, millions of dollars is still being spent on the importation of crude oil from Venezuela and Mexico and as such, the training course will indeed be beneficial to Jamaica.
According to Mr. Lee, the training programme was introduced when the Korean Government, through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), its official development assistance arm, suggested to the Jamaican Government in October of last year, to start a multi-year and problem-solving type “country training course for Jamaica, which could improve the effects of training by reflecting Jamaica’s special needs and requirements.”
The KOICA implements the grant aid and technical co-operation programmes of the Korean Government, thereby contributing to: strengthening the co-operative relationship between Korea and developing countries; and promoting the socio-economic advancement of the recipient countries.
The training course was undertaken from July 10 to 25, as a pioneer project and gave the Jamaican delegation an opportunity to participate in workshops and seminars, which would ultimately benefit the island. The multi-year programme will continue for the next two or three years.
The Charge d’Affaires informs that currently, Jamaica is the only regional territory benefitting from the training course for energy diversification. He however highlights that “the KOICA is providing technical assistance to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with regular training programmes.”
Outlining the activities involved in the training course, Mr. Lee says this consisted of five major parts, the first part of which was an orientation session, to provide the participants with general information and an overview on Korea’s culture and the activities of the KOICA.
The second segment of the programme was a briefing session to introduce Korea’s energy policy and natural gas markets, to provide an understanding of the natural gas business and LNG facilities, and presentation and discussion of country reports by participants.
The course also involved study visits and a two-day field trip, with participants visiting the Gas Science Museum, Research and Development Centre, Korea Gas Company (KOGAS), Gyeong-in District Office, Incheon LNG Regasification Terminal, and Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipbuilder and a global leader in the heavy industrial sector.
The delegation also took part in social and cultural activities, including a tour of the historical Gyeongju city and the Seoul area.
“The last part of the programme was a wrap-up session, which concluded the course. It included a questionnaire survey, oral evaluation and departure orientation. Suggestions, questions and answers, and personal feedbacks on the programme were also made in the wrap-up session,” Mr. Lee tells JIS News.
He says the response of the participants to the training programme has been tremendous. “Some of them expressed their gratitude for arranging such a marvellous training course and they want to adapt what they have learned from this course to their own strategy for Jamaica’s economic and social development,” he says, adding that most of the participants expressed their astonishment at the level of economic development of the host country.
He says that the programme will be highly beneficial to Jamaica and will assist greatly in implementing measures to reduce the energy bill. “The Jamaican participants in this programme could find out what they are missing in Jamaica through what we (Korea) have accomplished in the energy diversification area. By learning the Korea experience, they could apply the Korean experience to their own policy planning for energy diversification,” he points out.
The Charge d’Affaires hopes that ultimately, the programme will be helpful to the Jamaican Government’s efforts, to reduce the energy bill and heighten Jamaica’s economic and social development.
In addition to the training course, Mr. Lee tells JIS News, that the Republic of Korea, has implemented measures and additional programmes, which will eventually benefit the country.
Trainees are being invited for courses in forensic science investigation, human rights and development of women, gender policy development, coastal aquaculture technology, disaster prediction and warning system, ocean observation and hydrographic survey, and environmental impact assessment, while a one year master’s degree scholarship, to foster competent officials and researchers in the Government institutes for the socio-economic development, is being offered. Mr. Lee is imploring qualified candidates to take part in these activities and programme, which will not only benefit them but the country.
In addition, there is also the Korean Government Scholarship programme for international students, which is aimed at providing international students with the opportunities to conduct advanced studies at higher educational institutions in Korea. “This year, six students were allocated to Jamaica, but only two students applied and were approved,” Mr. Lee informs.
He also notes that two grant assistance programmes, with the funding of US$ 3 million, have also started. The programmes will be used for the establishment of health information systems in hospitals in Kingston and the establishment of youth information centres in Mandeville, Manchester, Savanna-la-mar, Westmoreland and Portmore, St. Catherine.
Mr. Lee underscores that the programmes the Korean Government has implemented, seek to support the Jamaican Government’s efforts for socio-economic development.