Pres Ali says govt in talks with MIT on developing ‘Innovation Village’ in Silica City

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
President Dr Irfaan Ali

– reveals developers of Singapore model, Dar Group, also expressing interest

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government is in negotiations with interested parties, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), on the development of the Innovation Village within Silica City.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali on Saturday made a presentation before members of the Guyana diaspora in Orlando, Florida, during which he informed the gathering about plans for the construction of Silica City along the Soesdyke/Linden highway. According to the President, the new Silica City that is being planned would be modern, sustainable, and environmentally friendly.

He explained that this is all part of the Government’s plan to build a technology-based economy.

“This is what we’re building: a knowledge-based economy that is driven by technology and innovation. Just before we came here, we had world leaders from MITs across the world,” President Ali explained.

“The developers of the Singapore model, Dar Group, are also discussing and negotiating with us their interest in developing an Innovation Village in Silica City itself. This is where your country is going — building the jobs for the future.”

President Ali addressing Guyanese Diaspora in Florida Saturday evening

MIT is a world-renowned US educational institute with courses that include engineering and the physical sciences and other areas —notably economics, political science, urban studies, linguistics, and philosophy. The school is considered premier, and admission to the institute is known to be competitive.

Last week, the Guyana Innovation Group and representatives of Dar Consultants made a presentation of a masterplan on the Innovation Village concept within Silica City to President Ali and the Cabinet. The master plan was presented by the team at State House.

During the presentation, they explained what the Innovation Village would accomplish. For one, it would connect start-ups and business incubators to established companies, maximising their opportunities.

Meanwhile, during the presentation, the President was accompanied by Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh; Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal; Public Works Minister Juan Edghill; and Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond.

A snippet of the presentation Dar Group made last week

Also present were Minister within the Housing and Water Ministry, Susan Rodrigues, as well as representatives from the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission and the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest).

Last month, Rodrigues had visited the site earmarked for Silica City’s first phase development within the vicinity of Kuru Kururu, on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway. On her visit, the Minister was accompanied by Permanent Secretary of the Housing and Water Ministry, Andre Ally; CHPA Chief Development Planner, Germene Stewart; Director of Projects, Omar Narine; Deputy Director Intakab Indarjeet; Deputy Commissioner of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), Michael Hutson, and other technical staff.

In a subsequent release, she had said that the inland city, which would complement Georgetown, is designed to address growing climate change risks.

“We are aggressively pursuing plans for the construction of Silica City, [and] we are here today to advance the planning and designs for the area, so that we can bring this city to an early realisation,” the Minister had stated.

She added, “Silica City will have in its first phase about 3000 acres of land, but we are starting to do the land-clearing for the first 185 acres, which will feature the ‘Innovation Village’ and the first 400 young professional homes.”

The Minister had stated that the Ministry has already begun shortlisting persons for the homes. The first phase of development of the city is also expected to feature a number of commercial and industrial developments, as well as hospitals. While these plans are in motion, land acquisition for phase two is also in progress through collaborative efforts with GLSC.

The establishment of Silica City was proposed in 2013 by Ali during his tenure as Minister of Housing and Water. It is in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the New Urban Agenda, the Housing Act 36:20, and other guidelines.

In his first year in office in 2020, President Ali revealed that Government had begun discussions on Silica City as a secondary city. He had explained that the Government was looking at an area on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway that would be connected to the new four-lane bypass road.

It had previously been explained that the city would initially cater to just over 3000 households in the first five years, and eventually grow to house more than 12,500 households.