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Rocketing Electricity Bills; FortisTCI tries public education to soften the blow

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, August 4, 2022 – Electricity prices will rise significantly this month according to power company Fortis TCI.  In an email to customers the company explained that the fuel factor for the July cycle had spiked across the island.

The company said consumers would be facing double digit increases in the fuel factor rate on their newest bills, which came as July turned to August.

“Fuel price increases in June mean an increase in the fuel factor rate, which will be reflected on your next electricity bill.  Your July electricity bill will reflect a Fuel Factor charge of $0.2950 per kilowatt hour for Providenciales, North Caicos and Middle Caicos.  This is 22.66% higher than last month.”

The increase was slightly lower for Grand Turk and Salt Cay landing at $0.2461, which is 19.88% higher than last month.  Last month’s bills were also higher than normal due to rising fuel costs.

FortisTCI sought to sooth residents’ fears about how consumption was calculated stemming from the June increases in an interview aired on Radio Turks and Caicos.

Alvejes Desir, Director of Energy Production said technology upgrades allowed them to do automated meter reads every 15-minutes.  This he said meant the consumption was not estimated and customers could read their own meters and compare it to their bills.  The meters are also tested and certified, said the director.

Additionally FortisTCI clarified the calculation of the total bills based on the fuel factor and electric rates.

Aisha Laporte, Vice President of Finance, Corporate services and CFO explained that bills are calculated by multiplying the residents consumption (quoted in kilowatt hours)  by the electric rate and by fuel factor rate.  Electric costs include the machinery used to actually make and get the electricity to customers while the fuel factor is the cost of fuel used.  The electric rate remains steady while the fuel factor changes monthly. Both the electric and fuel factor rates are both vetted by the TCIG.

The rising electricity bills, Laporte explained were dictated by rising oil prices. Diesel is used to run the electricity generators. That diesel is procured from the United States so changes in cost will trickle down

“Russia does supply the US with oil as well— we’ve seen where the Russia Ukraine conflict has caused disruptions with the supply chain— that has contributed to the increase in demand on one hand and restricted supply on the other.”

Additionally the company said that there may be about a month long lag in fuel prices regularly because of the long journey that oil from the US must take before it gets to the Turks and Caicos, Fortis TCI also has a first in first out policy when it comes to oil so that also affects the lag in prices.

Rising temperatures in the summer months played a role in rising costs of electricity according to Laporte.  To help they encouraged residents to use the my online account feature, because of the 15-minute readings.  Residents can see their consumption in real time.

“We have a smart meter tab that’s on the left-hand side. Once you login and click that tab immediately a graph shows up with your daily usage in addition to that you can click on each day and it will show you your hour by hour consumption,” said Nicquel Garland, Manager of Customer Service

In addition Garland said customers could set a consumption limit and would receive a notification when they got to that limit.  Customers can also get percentage notifications so when their current usage gets to 50% etc. of their previous month’s bill they will get a notification.

All data is stored so whenever you sign up all your previous data will be available.

This is an incredibly powerful tool for consumption management and Fortis says with the Ukraine crisis dragging on and the world still recovering from COVID-19 consumption is the key to bill reduction.

Caribbean News

Barbados to Host 41st Caribbean Travel Marketplace this Spring

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

 

#Barbados, February 2, 2023 – Barbados has been selected to host the 41st edition of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace. The event will be held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Bridgetown from May 9 -11, and it is expected to build on the success of the 40th staging held in Puerto Rico last fall.

CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig, who made the announcement recently, said it’s the first time in the organization’s history that the association’s largest annual event, which brings together buyers and sellers of the region’s tourism products and services, will be staged in Barbados.

“CHTA has a very strong relationship with both public and private sector stakeholders in Barbados, and as we position the region’s top earner for robust growth this year, we are delighted to lock arms with our Bajan partners to drive business to the Caribbean,” she stated.

Noting that: “This year’s Marketplace will also provide unique access to the Eastern Caribbean for buyers and tour operators as the region places a strong focus on the revival of multi-destination travel.”

Minister of Tourism and International Transport of Barbados Ian Gooding-Edghill, said the Barbados tourism industry was undergoing a major renaissance in the post-COVID environment, and the timing could not be better to welcome Caribbean Travel Marketplace to local soil.

“We are honoured to host such a preeminent gathering of tourism stakeholders from around the world,”  Minister Gooding-Edghill said, noting that the meeting aligns with Barbados’ value offerings, which appeal, among others, to the very important MICE [Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions] market.

The launch of the first Caribbean Travel Forum & Awards, a highlight of the Puerto Rico meeting, will return for a second edition and will be held in Barbados on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, ahead of the official opening ceremony of Caribbean Travel Marketplace.

The Forum will also focus on the business of tourism, and business appointments will be conducted on Wednesday, May 10 and Thursday, May 11.

Over 150 delegates, including Ministers of Tourism and key private sector leaders, engaged in the Caribbean Travel Forum last year.

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Bahamas News

National Food Policy to be created in the Bahamas

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

 

#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs in the Bahamas will see the creation of a National Food Policy geared towards ensuring food security on the island.

“This agricultural policy would encompass a holistic approach and incorporate regulations, legislation, and other aspects to assist the farmers who have not really gotten the attention they deserve for a long time,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Hon. Clay Sweeting.

Other initiatives within the agriculture sector will also be implemented, such as the digitalization of applications and forms, which will make farming more efficient.

Clay said, “we have already digitalized for the most part the Department of Marine Resources and soon we will unveil new services such as dog licences, import permits, and other services needed for a successful agricultural sector.”

The construction of the Cultivation Centres (TCC) in Eleuthera and New Providence with produce exchange, food processing kitchens and farm stores will continue.

Sweeting said he hopes these initiatives will help to decrease the country’s yearly $1 billion food import bill.

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Africa

The Incredible Story of David Avido of Kenya, 24 Year old designing for the Grass Roots to the Stars

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

 

#Africa, February 2, 2023 – One Kenyan designer began a sewing business out of the slums where he was born; now he dresses some of the Caribbean and Africa’s most famous faces.

Born the oldest son of a single mother and from Kibera Nairobi, David Avido Ochieng did not have an easy start. In Kibera, the largest urban slum in East Africa opportunities for international success are hard to come by and yet Avido can now say he has dressed the likes of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Beyoncé, Chronixx, Romain Virgo, Tarrus Riley, Chris Martin, Ty Dolla Sign, Koffee and many more.

As explained on his website, David dropped out of school to work and support his family quite young. In just first form he was working on a construction site but he knew he wanted more from life. After quitting his job he danced and saved what he could and tried his best to complete his education.

He told Vogue magazine: “When I started dancing I used to save money in order to go back to high school, with the little that I could get from dancing and my mom’s money from doing work as a house help, we were able to raise 15,000 shillings and with that, I joined an adult school and skipped forms two, three and four.”

David picked up a sewing machine to make costumes and realized his talent.  By 2015, his brand LookslikeAvido was born. He completed a fashion & design diploma at Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts and began to sew incredible pieces right at home in Kibera.  Even as his brand is globally recognized, Kibera is where his workshop remains; David says, his homeland is his great inspiration.

“There is no barrier if you believe in your talent and take the next step. I want to encourage and create beauty, where people don’t expect.”

Talented and thoughtful Avido is well aware of the stereotypes surrounding him, his home and the black community globally.

“We know about injustice and violence, prejudice, racial and social discrimination – we experience it within Kenya and we experience it globally, as people look at us as the poor, the uneducated, the needy,” he said.

Featured in Vogue, CNN and other international publications, Avido remains connected to his origins in a tangible way and as his success grows his roots just go deeper. Twenty per cent of all sales of his jackets and other clothing items go directly back to Kibera; his website explains ​that all the tailoring, product photoshoots and collaborations ‘is all done here in Kibra.’

There is no fabric waste from his garments, instead, scraps are repurposed into masks and shopping bags for residents, all his tailors are local residents, a portion of profits are used to pay school fees and Avido and his team put in extra time to make school uniforms as well.

On his website, is a photo of him sitting around a sewing machine, his worktable resting on hard-packed earth with presumably a group of family and friends surrounding him, a source of pride. The introspective photograph could have been taken in Nairobi, Trinidad or Barbados, so nostalgic is the picture, the bench and the story of community success that it represents.

In a video posted to his YouTube, David sits at his new work desk, and beside him hangs a rack of clothes in the cramped space that serves as his kitchen as well.

“I’m the firstborn of Kibera,” He explains, “Every kid in Kibera is looking up to me— my main dream is to open up a place where I can inspire people to work.”

David has a dozen employees and is listed in Beyonce’s directory of black businesses; with an uncommon wisdom, the designer knows that his successes so far are not parking spaces but rather stepping stones as he faces his future announcing that the journey, for him, continues.

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