Overview

Guyana is a low income country, and the third smallest country in South America after Suriname and Uruguay, with about 800 000 inhabitants and a GDP per capita of US$ 4,053 (2014).

Guyana is well endowed with natural resources, fertile agricultural lands, bauxite, gold and extensive tropical forests which cover more than 80 percent of the country. Guyana has one of the lowest deforestation rates in the world and 90 percent of Guyana’s forest remains intact. Most of the country’s indigenous population lives in forests on which they depend for their livelihood. About 90 percent of the population lives on the narrow coastal plain, where population density is more than 115 persons per square kilometer.

Guyana generates a large share of its economic activity from agriculture and natural resources sectors. In 2015 agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining industries accounted for 28 percent of total GDP, and bauxite, sugar, rice, gold and timber made up 83 percent of exports (Ministry of Finance, 2016).  These sectors provide the largest source of direct employment across the country.

Guyana’s economic fortunes in recent years have reflected the path of global commodity prices. Between 2005 and 2013, the economy grew by 4.7 percent per year on average, ending a disappointing decade of alternating years of growth and contraction. However, real GDP growth decelerated to 3.8 percent in 2014 and to 3.0 percent in 2015, as commodity prices collapsed for Guyana’s major exports. Drought, and uncertainty surrounding the 2015 elections also contributed to slower growth. Increased production of gold (two new mines opened in 2015), rice, and sugar compensated for lower global prices and balanced out contractions in construction, forestry and bauxite production.

The economy is expected to grow by around 4 percent in 2016 and 2017. Most of 2016 growth is expected to come from continued rapid growth of gold production and rebounding performance in construction and wholesale and retail trade industries. Inflation is expected to remain relatively subdued. Nonetheless, volatile commodity prices represent a significant risk.

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2016

The Country Assistance Strategy (2009-2012) comprises a program of lending, technical assistance and analytical work to support the Government’s national development plan around two main areas:

  • Strengthening environmental resilience and sustainability.
  • Improving education quality and social safety nets.

Financing to Guyana is channeled through the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund providing interest-free loans and grants to low-income countries, and through a series of trust funds managed by the Bank.

The World Bank Group is currently discussing its future engagement with the new government.

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2016

  • Significant results in strengthening environmental resilience and sustainability has been achieved: An emerging adaptation approach to flooding in low-lying coastal areas in Guyana has been developed. Together with the government, the Bank championed the establishment and management of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), being both a Trustee and a Partner Entity with the IDB and the UN. Norway committed US$ 250 million to the GRIF. The Bank recently signed a US$ 3.7 million grant agreement, funded by GRIF, for the rehabilitation of the Cunha Canal. The project will contribute to improving drainage in the East Demerara Water Canal.
  • Significant progress was also made in improving access and quality of education, particularly primary education: The number of untrained and unqualified teachers has declined by more than 40 percent and the community-based school feeding program has benefited more than 14,000 children in 93 out of 138 hinterland schools.
  • Since 2009, IFC invested up to US$ 195 million (including mobilization from commercial banks and other financial institutions) in Guyana Goldfields, a Canadian company present in Guyana since the mid-1990s. 

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2016


LENDING

Guyana: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments