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Petrocaribe Development Fund $402-Million Building Houses Automation and Mechatroincs Centre at CMU


Petrocaribe Development Fund $402-Million Building Houses Automation and Mechatroincs Centre at CMU

A new Festo Authorized and Certified Training (FACT) Centre for Industrial Automation and Mechatronics was officially opened at the Caribbean Maritime University by Prime Minister Hon. Andrew Holness on Wednesday, September 19.

This first of its kind facility in Jamaica will equip students with in-demand skills that will allow the graduates to be immediately employable anywhere in the world. Speaking at the official opening of the Centre, Dr. Wesley Hughes, Chief Executive Officer of the PetroCaribe Development Fund noted that the centre could be a game changer for the development of young Jamaicans, male and female who would be attracted to the high quality engineering and technology courses available.

Dr. Hughes highlighted the fact that the Fund provided $402 million towards the construction and equipping of the facility. This was “the single largest grant project in the 13 years of the
Fund’s operations”, he noted. This represents a major project that can “change the lives of thousands of young people as they prepare for the fourth industrial revolution sweeping the country and the region as a whole”, Dr. Hughes said.

He pointed out that over the years PetroCaribe had helped to finance a number of large infrastructure projects in Jamaica, among them:

  • the upgrading of the Norman Manley International Airport
  • the construction of the Falmouth Pier
  • Wigton Windfarm and its expansion
  • wooden houses for 3000 indigent persons
  • school sanitation project to eliminate pit toilets in primary and all-age schools
  • modernization of markets in downtown Kingston, and
  • expansion of the BPO Sector

However, he said that “while all these are important, we think, preparing our people for the future is of utmost importance.” A project such as this he believes is even more important as it
would bring significant improvement to the human capital of the country which is one of the most critical elements for economic growth and development.

Festo is a German multinational industrial control and automation company with 18,000 employees represented in 179 countries worldwide.

Describing the PCDF as “a model of efficiency”, Dr. Hughes noted that at one time the Fund managed more than US$3 billion in assets, with a staff of only 20 persons.

In closing Dr. Hughes commented that the Festo Centre, had the four critical ingredients needed for success of public sector projects:

  1. Identification of a real need for the country’s future development
  2. Passionate and committed team of partners
  3. Well planned project with the necessary resources
  4. Political and bureaucratic support

Dr. Hughes concluded by stating that the project had received support across political administrations, having started under the previous administration and taken to completion under the present one.