Kuwait civil societies to play key role in finding ‘alternatives’
In search of replacement for oil
THE question that is on the minds of everyone every day as soon as we highlight the need to find an alternative to oil is – what is the alternative and where? We have been repeatedly stating throughout the last few years that oil is not sustainable on a long term basis, and Kuwait must find another source of income.
This is not our invention nor our idea; it dates back to more than 54 years in 1965. We simply keep reminding ourselves to think, create and be selfaware, and perhaps to campaign and call on all of us and all civil societies to be aware of the dangers of relying on only oil. The process is long and will not happen overnight, unlike digging the first oil well in Burgan for instance.
It is a sad fact that oil prices will not return to its high level of $100 and above; it will remain, if not fall, at the level of $50 per barrel in the coming months. However, we are in need of a barrel price of more than $75 to balance our annual budget. This, for the time being, forces us to dry out our Central Bank reserves, before attacking our Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), which today stands at close to $600 billion. However, the SWF doesn’t belong to this generation but to the future generation. We must also create more than 20,000 new jobs for our coming graduates. The process of searching for an alternative to oil should come from the government and Parliament, but none of them have done anything in the last 50 years, as both have been busy playing their local politics policy and figuring out who can score and keep their power intact, regardless of the effects, as long as the monies are pouring despite its source. Of course, we are failing to find and provide solutions, but we have to inform about the danger of depending on oil while all markets are almost sinking with oil, which is happening in the absence of Iran and Nigeria.
Here comes the roles of Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which was very influential and effective in the past, Kuwait Graduate Society and Kuwait Economic Society, which can represent the facade of digging and creating “Think Task Force”, or even their own task force. We are a small nation with a young population of about 1.2 million residents. We have a good lifestyle, good health with life expectancy in the range of 70-78, stable democratic government and wealth, as well as free education that extend beyond our borders to cover global universities and with every opportunity to travel and study in any place in the world in order to give the youth the best education.
Of course, we are dependent on expatriates without whom we cannot run the country; they are a part of us for our future expansion in a safe and secure environment. We have the basic infrastructure but our long-term planning must be addressed. We lack any sort of short-term or long-term planning or process, and if we did, it would always be short, and never completed, but instead diverted and ignored. It is time to call for a joint campaign to be taken seriously, which lies fully on the lap of our civil societies.
es, we don’t have a ready-made solution currently, but we should have the courage and the will to tackle and find new source of income in lieu of oil. Certainly, we are capable of coming up with ideas. We need the process to begin in terms of searching for ways and means. We definitely have full confidence in our youths and this generation to come with a viable solution.
By Kamel Al-Harami Independent Oil Analyst