We live in the information age. At a time when information technology sits at the core of worldwide development and when access to information directly impacts a nation’s ability to provide opportunities for its citizenry, information is very much the key to unlocking CARICOM’s sustainable future. For this vibrant region comprising various cultures and people and connected by a drive to reach that future, strong collaboration is the fuel needed to drive CARICOM to its destination.
Created in 1973, the Latin American Energy Organisation (OLADE) exists to integrate Latin American and Caribbean countries through the development of the regional energy sector. While the organisation originally focused on the oil markets, OLADE’s agenda has since expanded to include the incorporation of renewable energy sources and support for the overall regional energy transition. The organisation’s current goal is to help the region generate more than 70% of its power from renewable energy sources by 2030. Headquartered in Quito, Ecuador, OLADE includes 27 Member Countries (including eight CARICOM Member States), represented by their Energy Ministers or Secretaries.
With the support of TAPSEC and as part of its long-standing relationship with the Caribbean region, OLADE has provided CARICOM with the key to accessing the data that will power the regional energy transformation. The CARICOM Energy Information System (sieCARICOM), was designed by OLADE based on the existing general Energy Information System already in use throughout Latin America. OLADE worked closely with the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) to tailor the system specifically for the region’s needs with the aim of enabling CARICOM to gather and process the energy sector data it needs to reach its sustainable energy goals.
In order to design the sieCARICOM, OLADE needed to leverage its existing Caribbean connections to collect the necessary data. As a longtime implementing agency for regional projects supported by international financiers such as the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, OLADE has a strong existing network of cooperation within the Caribbean. This was the network that enabled the organisation to connect to various ministries, utilities and energy companies across CARICOM during the information collection process. Once the sieCARICOM was complete, OLADE again reached out to begin the capacity building aspect of the project, ensuring that regional officials were properly trained to use the system to prepare the energy balances and other associated reports which will provide the high-quality energy statistics the region needs.
Alfonso Blanco, Executive Secretary of OLADE, describes this project as a continuous one focused on improving regional information systems and grounded in the close working relationship between his organisation and CARICOM. Not only will OLADE continue to engage in training as regional officials change, but it will continue to review the data prepared by the system and maintain the system itself, providing updates on a yearly basis.
Mr. Blanco credits TAPSEC’s support as crucial to OLADE’s efforts to launch the sieCARICOM and implement its newly-developed methodology for energy balances throughout the region. Noting that “information is essential” to the regional energy transition, he says programmes like TAPSEC “are the catalysts of the transformation because they are focused on overcoming the existing barriers in our region, capacity-building, improvement of regulations, creation of long-term energy policies and development of strategies to fight climate change.”
As the person who pioneered the open data strategy within his office, Mr. Blanco firmly believes that open access to information will encourage the kind of innovation CARICOM needs, saying “if all Caribbean countries have better information with a standardised process for energy information collection, this will be the basis for new investment in the region, the basis for increased participation of renewables throughout the region and the basis for improving the quality of life of the people.”