Prime Minister Gaston Browne has signed a US$15 million loan agreement with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) for the development of a 4 MW plant to address the water sector and essential services.
The funds are to be used to provide energy support for a number of government institutions around the island including schools, clinics and the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre and will also be used to finance desalination plants around the island.
The signing ceremony was held on Saturday and according to the prime Minister will go a long way in assisting the country to address the persistent drought that has been haunting the island.
Meantime, while in the United Arab Emirates, the Prime Minister held bilateral meetings high level officials where a number of pledges were made.
According to a government press release, PM Browne met with His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the UAE with both countries pledging to continue working together on a number of strategic areas of mutual interest including renewable energy, tourism, trade, and economic cooperation and matters of international relations.
During the meeting, PM Browne was encouraged to continue his efforts in renewable energy, with His Highness pledging his country’s continued support to Antigua and Barbuda.
Sheik Adbullah commented on the recently launched 50 million USD fund for the Caribbean for renewable energy and further encouraged the Prime Minister to ensure Antigua and Barbuda submits its application to the fund.
The Prime Minister also invited His Royal Highness to consider Antigua and Barbuda as a diplomatic hub within the region and the possibility of establishing an Embassy in St. John’s.
Both countries also discussed waived visa requirements where Prime Minister Browne was told that the UAE is willing to explore the possibility of a reciprocal visa waiver regime for citizens of Antigua and Barbuda entering the UAE. His Royal Highness also announced that he is putting together arrangements to visit Antigua and Barbuda during the latter half of 2017.
In related news, the country’s leader signed a Double Taxation Agreement between Antigua and Barbuda and the UAE. This was done after he held bilateral meeting with Minister of state and International Cooperation Her Excellency Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the UAE.
Both sides noted that the agreement along with the recently signed air services agreement and the Visa exemption privileges extended to citizens of the UAE by Antigua and Barbuda provided a platform for enhancing tourism and trade between the two countries including through the initiation of air services from the UAE to Antigua.