Month: January 2017

Greening Vehicular Transport in the Caribbean

Aim of the Project

Caribbean countries are largely dependent on fossil fuels to supply most of their energy needs. In Jamaica fossil fuel imports account for 28 percent of merchandise imports, and for 27 percent in both Guyana and Cuba. One of the main consumers of energy imports in the region is the transport industry.

Having regard to this, a study – “Greening Vehicular Transport in the Caribbean” – was commissioned by an international donor organisation. The main goal of this project was to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to assess whether the electrification of transport in a small island economy – Barbados – could reduce dependence on fossil fuels, boost economic growth and enhance sustainability.

Antilles Economics was engaged by the organisation to conduct the study and present the results at a regional workshop involving policymakers.

What We Did

This project required a number of research approaches. First, stakeholder interviews were conducted with individuals in transport, finance, and electricity generation and distribution. Second, a survey of consumers was conducted to assess their willingness to use and pay for electric vehicles as well as their general opinions and views on greening transport. Finally, the primary data collected was combined with secondary data to provide an assessment of the potential impact of greening transportation on foreign exchange reserves, business investment, the environment, fiscal balances and economic growth.

The study found that greening the transport industry could hold a number of macroeconomic and environmental benefits, such as having a national store of renewable energy. The paper also reported that there is demand for electric vehicles but the current incentive structure is somewhat perverse.

Impact of Project

The results from the project were presented to a regional group of stakeholders and policymakers interested in transportation. Since the dissemination of the report more countries in the Caribbean have begun the electrification of their transport industry, particularly in the OECS. In addition, many of these countries have reformed their tax and duty structure to make electric vehicles more economically feasible.

Our Work in Insurance

The Insurance Industry is indisputably one of the most important financial sectors in the Caribbean, managing US billions of dollars in assets. The fact that the ripple effects of the collapse, between 2009 and 2011, of two of the largest insurers in the region – British American Insurance Company Ltd. and Colonial Life Insurance Company Ltd. – are still being felt today, is but one example of how intertwined the insurance industry is with Caribbean business and the society at large. Insurers are increasingly involved in other industries, such as consumer finance, real estate, agriculture, manufacturing, distribution and communications. They represent one of the largest institutional investor groups in the Caribbean, and are one of the most popular choices for individual investors looking for retirement savings plans and other long-term investments.

As insurers become more complex and their operations span more industries, the challenge that is becoming more apparent is the need to better anticipate long-term changes. Ageing populations and the accompanying health risks, as well as climate change and the increased frequency of weather-related disasters, are two of the most pressing issues being faced by this generation of insurers. It has also become more critical that insurers understand trends in consumer markets. Consumers, especially millennials, are increasingly demanding online services, faster response times and more knowledgeable financial advisors.

Innovative insurers are already allowing online and automated premium payments and digitizing their claim procedures, but more can be done. Mining their datasets would potentially uncover lucrative insights that could lead to the creation of more innovative products and services, as well as assist financial advisors with selecting the right products and services for the right clients. If insurers are to compete credibly in non-insurance industries, they also have to ensure that they understand the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how these industries operate. As the CLICO failure, in particular, highlighted, insurers must learn to successfully read these industries in order to make smart, sustainable investments. Antilles Economics can help. From intelligence gathering to big data to economic and industry forecasts, we provide a wide range of services that insurers can access to navigate their increasingly complicated business environment.

Click here to read more.

Welcome 2017!

2016 was a weird year, wasn’t it? As I reflect on last year and start executing our plans for 2017, I’m a bit surprised at how fast 2016 went. We had a busy year, and time flies when you’re having fun, but it seems like 2016 flew by! But then again, I also said that last year, so maybe my perception of time is warped.

We made good progress towards one of our driving mantras: fostering fact-based decisions in regional businesses. We collaborated with a number of companies across various sectors to understand their customers and incorporate these insights into their strategies and tactics. And we’re pleased at how many have already started reaping the benefits of these insights. We did much of the foundation work for one of our most ambitious projects to date (you’ll hear more about that as the year progresses). We improved our internal processes around forecasting developments in our focus countries and industries. And, we spent some time understanding the internal blockages corporate decision-makers face when trying to ground their decisions in fact.

Despite this progress, I’m still a bit disappointed that we had to pause article publication, which was one of our avenues to support fact-based decisions by providing independent analysis. This was a deliberate decision on our part. We wanted to spend more time understanding the type of information our readers really needed to make decisions. After conversations with both current subscribers and people who’d never even heard of us, we have revamped our articles and will now publish two content streams:

  1. Our Blog will focus more on what we do here at Antilles Economics. We have had quite a few requests for more detail about our work, which has always been a challenge given the need to preserve the confidentiality of our clients and the fact that our work spans so many different fields. Nonetheless, we can definitely provide more insight into what we do. Our Blog will focus on our research areas and the industries and functions we support, our thoughts on economics developments throughout the region, case studies about previous work and updates on current projects (where feasible). We hope that this will give you not only a greater appreciation of the scope of our work, but also provide you with useful information about developments in your industry/country as well as practical suggestions on making better decisions in your functional role.
  2. Our AE Quarterly newsletter will contain research articles on our core industries, functions and research areas. Previously, our articles were accessed through our Blog, and you never knew when a new article would be published. We will now publish articles in March, June, September and December, and only subscribers will be able to access the full article. Subscription is free, and if you haven’t already subscribed to receive our articles, click here to sign up.

Another area we’re going to improve on in 2017 is keeping you informed of our work in economics. Although our roots are in economic analysis and we spend the bulk of our time working on projects that have national or regional impact, you’d never know if you visit our website. So we will fix that this year by sharing more about our economic policy work. We will also be sharing more about our industry tracking and forecasts. I bet you didn’t know we have built a forecast model of the entire Barbados economy, including all of its key industries, and we have a macroeconomic forecast model for Trinidad and Tobago. We also have tourism forecasts models for almost every tourism-dependent country in the English-speaking Caribbean and tracking models for regional consumer finance and the economies of Jamaica and Guyana. Our clients access updated information and forecasts on the indicators within these models through our dashboards and custom reports. We have hinted about this in the past (see here and here) and there’s even a link to our dashboards on our website (see here), but this year we will feature this type of work more.

So that’s it for how we’re welcoming 2017 here at Antilles Economics. What are your plans for the year?