Small Island Developing States (SIDS) & energy aid: Impacts on the energy sector in the Caribbean and Pacific

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean and Pacific have gone from a place of self-sufficiency and energy independence, during pre-colonial times, to a position, in more recent times, of being (often heavily) dependent on both imported capital (loans and aid) and imported sources of energy. This paper asserts that the current dependence of Caribbean and Pacific SIDS on both development assistance from donor agencies and imported fossil fuels is not coincidental, but rather, it was due to the transition of these islands from subsistence agriculture to export-oriented economies, primarily to serve the interests of more developed metropolitan countries. These interests have included the provision of cheap raw materials and agricultural produce to imperial nations; which has meant that SIDS needed to develop export orientated economies requiring both financial capital and energy supply usually over and above that available locally. The impact of colonisation on domestic energy use and demand in SIDS is thus briefly outlined so as to make clear how these nations transitioned from self-sufficiency to dependence on foreign capital and energy. It is upon this backdrop that the current dependence of SIDS on international aid, particularly with regards to the energy sector, has been analysed, along with its influence on energy policy in SIDS. This paper suggests that while imported finance and energy have been crucial to the past development of SIDS, the extent of reliance upon external financial assistance and energy imports at present is a cause for concern not only due to long term energy security issues but also because of the climate change implications of fossil fuel use. The concern is also pressing within the context of long term debt accumulation. It is argued herein that closer attention should be paid to local capacity building, training and institutional strengthening to enable a transition to renewable energy in place of fossil fuel based power. In terms of long term resilience such capacity building could eventually include the means for the production of renewable energy technology components.

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