As the Caribbean region recognizes the importance of sustainable energy solutions to the island chain as a whole, CARICOM has embarked on a programme to honour the people who are making significant contributions to the sector.
During the launch of its Innovation Lab and Expo at its Regional Electric Mobility Workshop this morning at the Barbados Hilton, the regional body announced Hannah Olmberg-Sousman of Suriname as the inaugural winner of its Energy Personality Award competition.
Devon Gardner, Programme Manager for Energy at the CARICOM secretariat, stated that “During Energy Month last November, we made the decision to honour some of the people whose work in recent times has been making a significant impact on the regional energy landscape.”
In all, there were seven nominees for the award. Along with Mrs Olmberg-Sousman, they included Dr Indra Aratsingh, Jonathan Barcant and Adrian Thomas from Trinidad and Tobago; Joshua Hunte from Barbados; Ruth Spencer from Antigua and Barbuda, and Angella Beckford from Jamaica.
Mrs. Olmberg-Sousman, a lawyer by profession, was recognized for her work in bringing electricity to the indigenous people in her native Suriname, and her commitment to empowering women in that segment of the society. Visibly humbled and overwhelmed when she was announced the winner, she spoke about the work she has been doing since 2011.
”My husband and I, along with another partner, started a company called Guguplex Technologies, which has the slogan “Light is Life”, and we install solar powered electricity systems for indigenous people living in the rural areas of Suriname who never had access to this service before. The most significant thing I have done in my career so far is when I personally had to install an electrical system in the company of two other women. Normally, I ‘hide behind my husband’ with those technical projects, but everything went smoothly and the people actually applauded us when the lights went on for the first time!”
She added that she is actively involved in mentoring young women. “I am an Ambassador for the Y network of the Clinton Foundation, and my mentee this year lives in Barbados and has been doing some significant work here.”
Gardner added that the Energy Personality honour will become an annual event and vowed that CARICOM would not forget the pioneers in the energy sector. “We know there are many people who have worked diligently in this field for decades, and eventually we will consider honouring them with Lifetime Achievement Awards.” (DH)