The St. Lucian Analyzer sends congratulatory regards to all participants who took part in our recent essay competition. The fact that you provided your participation shows your initiative and passion towards St. Lucia’s development. Particularly, special acclaim to the top three participants:
1. Lincoln Francis #1 Award
2. Chelsea Dilsuk #2 Award
3. Zidane Hadeed #3 Award.
Prizes were presented to the winners on Thursday November 4th at a prize giving ceremony held in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. We thank the Ministry for their support.
Over the next two weeks we will publish the essays of the winners starting with Zidane’s essay.
Zidane Hadeed is a young man born and raised in Saint Lucia. From a child I always had an inventive spirit, which birthed an infatuation with the sciences. Having tasted the joys of flight, today I find myself drawn to everything aerospace. I have always maintained that I can do anything I put my mind to. Despite much adversity, I am now two years into my first undergraduate degree.
Higher learning has allowed me to see the world and its possibilities in new dimensions. I feel strongly about education and what Saint Lucia can be with more of it. It is my dream is to see Saint Lucia one day have its own University, so that more Saint Lucians can see new opportunities and learn more about themselves from new perspectives.
On the Saint Lucian Economy and People
Saint Lucia is an island microstate with very little marketable resources. Earlier economic activity was centred on banana exports to guaranteed European markets, vulnerable to external shocks and heavily reliant on manual labour. Today mass international tourism constitutes 40% of Saint Lucia’s GDP, resulting in a primarily low- to semi-skilled workforce representing 48% of all employment.
Job seasonality, unsteady salaries and lack of collateral cause the average Saint Lucian difficulty in accessing financial services for upward social mobility. Notable is Saint Lucia’s obscene Gini Coefficient at 51.2, ranking twelfth worldwide and first regionally concerning economic inequality. Moreover, the top tenth of the population hold nearly 39% of national income, whereas the bottom tenth hold less than 1%.
Net migration has been negative well after the turn of the century. Often do skilled and professional talent migrate for study, not returning due to lack of opportunity. As recent as the year 2000, Saint Lucian emigration rates were at 32.1% and 36% for secondary and tertiary education respectively.
An Economy of Inclusion
Saint Lucia’s tourism is skewed towards foreign all-inclusive brands, trickling little onto the local economy due to diminished linkages and exported profits. Inclusion can be realised by incentivising small local enterprises and boutique accommodation. Embracing technologies such as Airbnb also facilitates lodging from local hosts and activities.
With regulations such as host licensing and zoning restrictions, further construction for accommodation can be stimulated and visitors ultimately contribute directly to Saint Lucians. Investing in skills development and internships, arts and associated creative industries, and funding start-ups can also empower more Saint Lucians to become business owners, engage the youth in more self-fulfilling employment and open untapped industries.
A Need for Knowledge
Universities nurture ethics and equality through merit and engender soft skills such as effective communication and critical thinking. They stimulate economic growth by being hubs for research and development, technology and innovation, start-ups and entrepreneurship, and diverse thinking that tackles local and global socioeconomic needs. They pride themselves in the quality of their graduates, which is pivotal in attracting meaningful investments.
These institutions are also lucrative, stable streams of foreign currencies through year-round international student recruitment. For reference, the Caribbean Development Bank cites private education contributing 19.8% to Grenada’s GDP in 2018. From post-graduates to potential landlords to students, the effects of tertiary education effectively permeate society. No sooner must Saint Lucia transition its Sir Arthur Lewis Community College into a fully accredited University College.
The Green Economy
Agricultural lands have declined considerably from a peak 36%, now steady at 17%, likely due to aggressive land use competition. Destructive agriculture practices such as deforestation and unchecked chemical usage accelerates erosion, runoff, and eutrophication of streams. Small farm size and steep land topography reduces yield and deters mechanisation. This ultimately decreases economy of scale, contributing to Saint Lucia’s annual US$4.5 Million food imports.
Encouraging agroforestry can integrate forests with traditional crop and livestock farming, thus improving land stability, air, and water quality. Hydroponics can also increase crop production while using less land and manual labour. Compared to traditional soil farming, crops grown hydroponically mature 25% faster and yield 30% more on average. Active data collection and artificial climates better acclimate hydroponic farmers to changing demands, thus reducing waste and dependence on a single crop.
Industrialisation generates economies of scale in national output, increases household income with more high-skilled and stable manufacturing jobs, and expands consumption which sets economies on a cycle of growth.
By leveraging its geostrategic location in the Americas, the Saint Lucian blue economy can capitalise on trade routes linking surrounding major markets, establishing itself as a transit hub. Incentivising its existing petroleum industry for instance, can yield increased storage and transhipments from Guyana’s oil boom, as well as attracting new interest in refinery.
The presence of both air and sea ports in the Vieux Fort district are also attractive assets for manufacturing. Dedicating this district as a technological and special economic zone can increase local entrepreneurship and economic participation, business competitivity, and foreign investment. Integrating environmental-friendly industrial parks also fosters sustainable practices
such as waste recycling and resource efficiency, thus improving economic cohesion, production competitivity, labour and community welfare.