The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) remains committed to assisting the Government of Belize in achieving its development objectives including those in the electricity sector. This message was conveyed to staff of the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) at a workshop held from September 3 to 5, to officially launch the project to upgrade and expand the electricity system. This project is being funded by a loan of USD11.231mn.

This upgrade and expansion will be the sixth intervention by CDB in the electricity sector in Belize but the first for all of the staff members of BEL involved in its implementation. The aim was to inform these key BEL staff of CDB's procedures and requirements as they relate to the implementation of the Project.

CDB's Portfolio Manager, Allison Davis, told the participants that further improvements in the electricity sector were important because of the fact that energy is the engine of growth.

"An efficient, secure and reliable electricity service facilitates increased activity in the productive sectors and this in turn stimulates economic growth. Indeed, such an electricity service is what BEL is seeking to continue providing under this Project as it fortifies its sub-transmission and distribution system in anticipation of increased demand for electricity in the medium to long term," Davis said.

Davis also explained that the workshop was one of the tools used by the Bank to facilitate the efficient implementation of projects for which it provides financing.

"One of the objectives of the workshop is to ensure that all participants leave with a greater understanding of the project and its relevance to the development of Belize. More importantly, we expect that by the end of the exercise, the stakeholders will understand their individual roles and the roles of other persons who will be charged with the responsibility of successful implementation of the project so that the objective can be achieved," Davis said.

Belize (then British Honduras) is a founding member of the Caribbean Development Bank and so far the Bank has approved a total of just over USD345mn in public sector loans and grants and USD11.1mn in loans for the private sector.

CDB's first intervention in the electricity sector was for a generation and distribution expansion project in 1971. So far the Bank has approved a total of USD45.7mn for the electricity sector in Belize.