Ja ranks below Syria in Global Energy Index report

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter jacksons@jamaicaobserver.com

KOBANI, Syria — In this Wednesday, November 19, 2014 photo, a Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) fighter shows the extent of the damage from a truck bomb in Kobani. Here, Kurdish fighters backed by small numbers of Iraqi peshmerga forces and Syrian rebels, are battling what they see as an existential battle against the militants who swept into their town in mid- September as part of a summer blitz that saw the group seize large chunks of territory in Syria and neighbouring Iraq. (PHOTO: AP)

JAMAICA’S high energy costs and poor infrastructure ranked the country 97th globally, or worse than civil war-torn Syria, according to the Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2015 published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in collaboration with Accenture Strategy.

Switzerland topped the list of 125 nations in the report issued this month.

The WEF also publishes the Global Competitiveness Report.

Jamaica improved from 112th position in the previous report but still recorded the third worst rank in Latin America and the Caribbean, above Honduras and Haiti.

Syria, which ranked 96th, suffered from geopolitical unrest led by DAESH terrorists referred to in the West as ISIS or ISIL, the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant which encompasses Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and Turkey.

“In the Middle East, during the summer ISIS seized a number of oil assets, controlling large swathes of Syrian oil fields, as well as several Iraqi pumping stations, fields and refineries, leading some to refer to ISIS as a ‘new petro-state’,” stated the report’s authors.

“Now, more than ever, ‘sustained political efforts will be essential to change energy trends for the better’, and policymakers and businesses are challenged to evolve their energy systems to meet the needs of today and the future. In so doing, they will need to ensure continued investments, and focus on balancing the triple energy goals: the requirements for energy security and access, sustainability and economic growth,” the WEF said.

Despite the unrest, Syria performed better than Jamaica in terms of absolute ranking, but the island equalled Syria’s 0.50 score on the Energy Architecture Performance Index (EAPI) — a tool which monitors energy accessibility along with economic and environmental sustainability. Switzerland scored 0.80 on the EAPI.

This year’s report failed to highlight Jamaica’s performance as it did in the previous report. That report described the island as suffering from costly energy infrastructure which facilitated underdevelopment. It added that Jamaica’s low growth and development were “largely due to the economic impact of import dependence and the lack of domestic energy supply”.

The island imports some US$2 billion in oil annually.

Another area of concern in the previous report was the quality of electricity supply at 4.4 out of seven. Renewable or green energy accounts for some 18 per cent of energy output but the island can do more, according to the 2014 report.

“Jamaica has pursued policies to improve the affordability of solar technologies and is piloting net metering to allow independent power producers to sell excess electricity production back to the grid. However, the scalability of these initiatives is one of a number of challenges that need to be overcome before further reduction of import dependence is achieved,” the WEF said last year.

The cost of electricity currently hovers at 40 cents per kilowatt hour in Jamaica. The island has stalled for nearly 20 years the introduction of liquefied natural gas to the oil-based power grid.

The 2015 report described the global energy environment as turbulent, with unrest and a 45 per cent dip in oil prices since July this year to US$58 a barrel.

“A turbulent year for the energy sector, 2014 has been marked by geopolitical crises, stagnating global economic growth, and slow progress in lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Oil prices have displayed significant volatility and declined to levels last seen in 2010. Uncertainty exists in some producing regions, as tensions between the Russian Federation and Ukraine simmer, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) unleashes turmoil in the Middle East,” stated the report.

Most of the top 10 performers on the list are European and/or advanced economies, but the data revealed that there is no common path to the top. It added that resource endowment, geographic circumstances, boundary constraints and political decisions all play a role in performance.


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