Thursday, June 14, 2007


For the last few decades, the world has seen a rapid expansion in global trade. This ‘trade’ can be deceiving however: In the 1970’s trade did mean buying and selling goods that were owned and produced in different regions and countries.

But in the 1980’s and 1990’s trade took on a new meaning as companies expanded beyond national borders, and began to produce their products in developing countries where they could exploit lower costs; saving money in wages, and regulatory standards.

In its most extreme form, the exploitation of developing countries need for foreign capital and economic investment has resulted in the creation of economic phenomena such as export processing zones, which are reputed to be rife with human, and labour rights violations, poor regulatory environments, and virtually no environmental standards. However, these problems are not limited to these ‘zones’.

Some call it slavery, and for those who measure it in these terms, slavery may arguably be more pervasive today than it was 300 years ago.

There is an alternative to this exploitative path towards economic growth. Fortunately the concept is catching on quickly enough to find that fair trade markets boasting growth rates far in excess of traditional markets; although quite a bit smaller in terms of their total dollar value.

Fair trade, is trade that is characterized by a few basic principles: Paying workers a fair wage for their work, ensuring respectable labour standards, establishing stable commodity prices (which is very helpful to farmers) and reducing the number of ‘middle-men’ involved in trade, where most of the profit goes in traditional trade structures.

Grenada, as a small nation has many assets that could embrace the fair trade market. Many farmers still use traditional, non-mechanized (and therefore labour intensive) farming practices, pesticide use is still quite limited and organic farming is widely practiced. Heritage seeds are still in the possession of farmers, which means that farmers are not dependant on buying seed every year.

Artisans have a wealth of resources to develop craft, such as soaps, candles, spice, art, sculpture and more.

Items like these, which foster fair wages and prices for the producer, and protect the environment, are becoming increasingly popular in the northern consumer markets. There are markets for things like the organic chocolate that is produced by the Grenada Chocolate Factory, for the soaps produced by Caribbean Naturals, and the natural insect repellants and colognes made by Arawak Islands.

With these examples in mind, Grenada arguably already has a fair trade market, which if successfully marketed overseas offer limitless potential as an export market for Grenada, while also offering other benefits that promote domestic economic stability.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


“When we succeed in this, all of Grenada will succeed”, were the words of Sir Daniel Williams, Governor General of Grenada, while he spoke about renewable energy at the launch ceremony of a solar system for Presentation Brothers College, in St. Georges, Grenada on June 4th.

According to the Governor General, the long term cost savings in solar energy far exceed the initial investment; which ultimately results in a net financial gain. For business, investments in solar energy could make companies more profitable as their energy costs decline the Governor General explained.

The Federal Republic of Germany provided the funding to install the photovoltaic system with a $29,000 cheque that was handed over by German Ambassador, Dr. Helmut Ohlruan at the ceremony. The German government is also encouraging the expansion of sustainable energy use through the Caribbean Renewable Energies Development Project.

While the effects of climate change are increasingly visible worldwide, and is expected to worsen, investments in sustainable energy technologies in Grenada, could position the country to be a highly competitive and prosperous country in the future. Grenada is in the position of being able to exploit renewable energy to drive it’s economic growth, without the price tag of dismantling the outdated industries, more wealthy nations are facing.

For the students, this is already providing the kind of inspiration that drives innovation. After proudly pointing out plaques on wall that were won at the science fair for a project on alternative energy, three young visionaries from Form One insisted that being exposed to solar energy in a learning environment will drive innovation in Grenada.

Kishon Francis remarked that by learning about solar energy and seeing the effects (such as cost savings), Grenadian youth will soon be inventing even better energy systems for the future.

Mario Redhead also believed that exposure was a key to inspiration. “It is better technology, and they [students] will want to be like the person who made it”. Naquam Gilbert pointed out that solar energy would also be very helpful after a hurricane, to provide power.

The solar voltaic system that has been installed at Presentation Brothers college was provided by a local sustainable energy company called Grensol. Terry Pierre, Head of the Science Department, the Principal, Mr. Jeremiah and Grensol are keen to foster inspiration and learning: So they hooked up the energy meter to a computer in the school so students can analyze the energy production, cost savings, and in the near future the data will also be available on the internet for others to use.

On June 4th, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Helmut Ohlraun presented a cheque for $29,000 to the Presentation Brothers College to cover the costs of installing the first photovoltaic electricity system to be used as an alternative source of energy.

The Governor General, Sir Daniel Williams clearly understands the value of renewable energy, and took great care to explain the long term financial benefits and cost savings of investing in renewable energy such as solar power. In his words, “When we succeed in this, all of Grenada will succeed”