The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) CEO, Mr. Sultan Al-Marshad, and Honorable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda signed an $80 million financing agreement for the expansion project of the University of the West Indies at Five Islands (UWI) in Antigua and Barbuda. The agreement represents a significant milestone, with Antigua and Barbuda being the 85th state to receive funding for a major development project from SFD.
The signing ceremony took place at the university’s headquarters in the presence of the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, the Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies Five Islands Campus, the Minister of Education and Sport in Antigua and Barbuda, and several officials from Saudi Arabia and Antigua and Barbuda, in addition to university students and some residents of the area.
Aimed at raising the level of the higher education sector in the Caribbean, the agreement will further promote scientific innovation and add additional educational facilities in the university, helping the Caribbean countries reach their Sustainable Development Goals.
Honorable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, expressed his appreciation for the development efforts undertaken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development, which will enhance the educational sector in Antigua and Barbuda and its neighboring countries. He further indicated that the education sector is of great importance for the country’s economic growth, and the support from the SFD will help the nation achieve its Sustainable Development Goals. The Prime Minister also expressed the need for more cooperation between the two sides to achieve sustainable development.
In addition to increasing equal access to education for the population of Antigua and Barbuda and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States members, the project will further boost economic growth by creating more jobs and providing a more robust educational base.
This UWI expansion project agreement is the first and most prominent development project to expand the university’s campus. The project will cater to neighboring Caribbean countries that extend from the southeast of North America and eastern Central America to the north and east of South America.
To ensure the project is compatible with clean and innovative energy solutions, the financing agreement involves constructing seven energy-efficient buildings to make the university more sustainable. The project covers a total area of nearly 95,160 m² and will serve 5,000 students annually.
Commenting on the project, the CEO of the Saudi Fund for Development, Mr. Sultan Al-Marshad, stated: “Through financing this project, the Saudi Fund for Development aims to expand the scope of its operations in the Caribbean, which is in line with the efforts made by the Kingdom’s government to build bridges of cooperation for development with the international community. The project will further support international efforts to achieve sustainable development across different social and economic areas. The University of the West Indies is considered the largest and oldest provider of education in the Caribbean, offering high-quality research and teaching facilities and essentially serving the Commonwealth Caribbean.”
He added: “The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia attaches great importance to supporting development in different countries to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. The UWI expansion project is in line with the Fund’s financing policy, which is based on achieving SDGs by providing the necessary support for development projects while also focusing on infrastructure and productivity sectors with humanitarian impacts. The expansion project falls under SDG 4, quality education, which is essential for achieving economic growth.”
Since its establishment in 1975, and within the education sector alone, the SFD has financed 78 educational projects in Asian and African countries, with an estimated support value of $1.7 billion.