By Makeida Antonio
Prime Minister Gaston Browne and other government officials have welcomed a new university that will facilitate medical studies in Antigua and Barbuda.
The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Western Imperial Medical University took place yesterday at Crabb’s Peninsula where the YIDA Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is located.
Browne, in his remarks during the opening ceremony, said that major educational institutions such as this one will make a positive impact on Antigua and Barbuda’s economy.
“We had long set a vision to establish Antigua and Barbuda as the financial and educational center of the Caribbean. We knew therefore that we had to attract more businesses within the financial sector as well as more universities. Certainly, within the past few years, we would have attracted three medical schools, we know that one established medical school has about 1,500 students and those medical students make a contribution towards the socioeconomic development of our country. In fact, it is estimated that the university contributes around five percent of our GDP,” PM Browne shared.
Browne highlighted the severe challenges to the economy as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and said this move is a part of diversification efforts.
“Countries like Antigua and Barbuda who were previously dependent on tourism, Covid would have taught us a lesson to diversify our tourism product and at the same time to pursue broader diversification of our economy.”
Minister of Education Daryll Matthew expressed that he felt privileged as he delivered his speech during the opening ceremony. Matthew believes that this “historic” occasion will deliver high quality education to the country’s people, provide great economic development and will make Antigua and Barbuda stand out as an academic center of excellence.
“Any institution which enhances the educational landscape of any country can only be celebrated. When we have persons who express an interest in establishing an institution of higher learning, an institution that adds to our already growing cohort of universities here in Antigua and Barbuda, it is certainly one to be celebrated,” the Education Minister said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Browne announced that more investment will be streamlined into Antigua and Barbuda. It is called the Western Imperial Special Economic Zone (WISEZ). This will be facilitated by CEO of Western Imperial Capital Limited Vijender Singh and managed by Charit Mathur, Director of Western Capital Limited. Mathur told media that this development is a separate undertaking from the YIDA SEZ, as an MoU was signed by Yida Zhang and Virjender Singh to establish the development about six months ago.