An opening to the foreign businessman Editorial
Kaieteur News
November 5, 2006

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Opening up a country is not always the easiest thing. It takes money but even before that, it demands foresight. There must be a sense of purpose and the planners must always be aware of the end result.

In Brazil, the planners decided to move the capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia for some reason. The country already had a capital that was world renowned and made even more famous in film. However, the leaders of the country at the time had a vision that has paid off.

Similarly, one cannot but help laud the planners who decided to shift the CARICOM Secretariat outside the capital to that location at Turkeyen. In so doing they have not only enhanced the development of that part of the city but they have made Guyana much more accessible to regional leaders.

But even before the shift of the Secretariat there was the Ogle aerodrome that catered for commuter travel between the coast and the various interior locations. Then some developers recognised the strategic location of the airport to the CARICOM Secretariat and they have decided to expand heavily and so transform what was basically an airstrip into a regional airport.

Many Caribbean countries, some of them less endowed with land mass than Guyana, have what they consider a regional airport in addition to their international airport. And the concept behind the establishment of the regional airport in those countries is to make other parts of the small countries readily accessible to visitors.

In Guyana, the investors in the regional airport project recognised the distance between the only point of entry by air and the city. Despite the vastly improved roadway linking the city to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, the time taken to travel between the two points was something that many dreaded, especially if their purpose of visit was to conduct business as quickly as possible.

At the opening of the CARICOM Secretariat, CARICOM Secretary General, Edwin Carrington, lauded the concept of the regional airport. He contended that it made sense and allowed the regional leaders to visit Guyana and to leave with a minimum of inconvenience.

He spoke of the possibility of one-day meetings in Georgetown and of people being able to leave the country without the hassle of miles of travel. And indeed, when the Secretariat was officially opened, many of the leaders were returning from neighbouring Suriname at the conclusion of an intercessional meeting. They landed at Ogle and left with a minimum of fuss.

On Friday, the investors commissioned the completed first phase of that regional airport project. They propose to complete the second phase some time next year. That phase includes a terminal and an extended runway that could easily access small jets, something that has become an integral part of the life of the international businessman.

Guyana is at the point where it desperately needs the presence of businessmen who would be inclined to invest here and there is a lot to attract the foreign businessman. For years we have been plugging the need for foreign investments. And as we campaigned for the foreigner we noted that among other things, we lacked the kind of communication infrastructure that would make this country attractive.

To date we have improved the telephone service and to a large extent the electricity situation. We are now about to cut down the travel time by way of making the Ogle aerodrome a regional facility. Before long it could become yet another international airport. The land is there for an extended runway to accommodate commercial jets.

But for now, the mere fact that we have gone the way to accommodate small international craft is a major plus. Not only will we reduce the likely congestion at the major airport at crucial times but we will also be rendering the eastern part of the city more accessible.

And indeed with the free movement of skills within the region, there could be nothing better than having people cut out the need to travel for miles simply to fly to the nearby Caribbean states.

People underestimate the power of an airport. Without a doubt the Ogle aerodrome, once expanded, would lead to the development of the communities in the vicinity. The value of real estate would rise appreciably and who knows, we could see a gradual shift from the centre of what is now a congested capital city.

Common differences are between what is known as high-context and low-context communication. Low-context communication stands on its own; it does not require context or interpretation to give it meaning. High-context communication is more ambiguous. It requires background knowledge and understanding (context), in addition to the words themselves, for communication.

While everyone uses both kinds of communication, Western cultures tend to use low-context communication more often, while Eastern and Latin American and African cultures tend to use high-context communication. If such differences are not understood and adjusted for, misunderstanding is almost inevitable.

Culture also affects communication by influencing the recipients' assumptions. As described above, our minds try to twist incoming information to make it fit in our worldview. Since different cultures have very different worldviews, cross-cultural communication is especially likely to change meaning between sender and receiver, as the sender may have a very different worldview from the receiver.

Given our tendency to hear what we expect to hear, it is very easy for people in conflict to misunderstand each other. Communication is already likely to be strained, and people will often want to hide the truth to some extent. Thus the potential for misperception and misunderstanding is high, which can make conflict management or resolution more difficult.