Guinea

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Not to be confused with Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, or Papua New Guinea.
For other uses, see Guinea (disambiguation).
Republic of Guinea
République de Guinée
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Travail, Justice, Solidarité" (French)
"Work, Justice, Solidarity"
Anthem: Liberté  (French)
Freedom
Location of  Guinea  (dark blue)– in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)– in the African Union  (light blue)
Location of  Guinea  (dark blue)

– in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)
– in the African Union  (light blue)

Capital
and largest city
Conakry
9°31′N 13°42′W / 9.517°N 13.700°W / 9.517; -13.700
Official languages French
Vernacular
languages
Ethnic groups
Demonym Guinean
Government Presidential republic
 -  President Alpha Condé (RPG)[1]
 -  Prime Minister Mohamed Said Fofana (RPG)[2]
Legislature National Assembly
Independence
 -  from France 2 October 1958 
Area
 -  Total 245,836 km2 (78th)
94,926 sq mi
 -  Water (%) negligible
Population
 -  July 2009 estimate 10,057,975[3] (81st)
 -  2014 census 10,628,972
 -  Density 40.9/km2
106.1/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $11.464 billion[4]
 -  Per capita $1,082[4]
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $5.212 billion[4]
 -  Per capita $492[4]
Gini (1994) 40.3
medium
HDI (2010) Increase 0.340
low · 178th
Currency Guinean franc (GNF)
Time zone (UTC+0)
Drives on the right
Calling code +224
ISO 3166 code GN
Internet TLD .gn

Guinea Listeni/ˈɡɪni/, officially the Republic of Guinea (French: République de Guinée), is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea (French: Guinée française), it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.[5] It has a population of 10,057,975 and an area of 246,000 square kilometres (94,981 sq mi).

Forming a crescent as it curves from its western border on the Atlantic Ocean toward the east and the south, Guinea shares its northern border with Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Mali, and its southern border with Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ivory Coast. The sources of the Niger River, Gambia River, and Senegal River are all found in the Guinea Highlands.[6]

The country is a republic. Directly elected by the people, the president is the Head of State and Head of Government. The Unicameral National Assembly is the legislative body of the country, and its members are directly elected by the people. The judicial branch is led by the Guinea Supreme Court, the highest and final Court of appeal in the country.[7]

Guinea is a predominantly Islamic country, with Muslims representing 85 percent of the population.[8] Guinea's 10 million people belong to twenty-four ethnic groups. French, the official language of Guinea, is the main language of communication in schools, in government administration, in the media, and among the country's security forces, but more than twenty-four indigenous languages are also spoken.

Guinea's economy is largely dependent on agriculture and mineral production.[9] It is the world's second largest producer of bauxite, and has rich deposits of diamonds and gold.[10]

Human rights in Guinea remain controversial. In 2011 the United States government claimed that torture by security forces, and abuse of women and children (e.g. female genital mutilation) were ongoing abuses of human rights.[11]

History[edit]

Main article: History of Guinea

The land that is now Guinea belonged to a series of African empires until France colonized it in the 1890s, and made it part of French West Africa. Guinea declared its independence from France on 2 October 1958. Since independence until the presidential election of 2010, Guinea was governed by a number of autocratic rulers.[12][13][14]

West African empires and Kingdoms in Guinea[edit]

What is now Guinea was on the fringes of the major West African empires. The Ghana Empire is believed to be the earliest of these which grew on trade but contracted and ultimately fell due to the hostile influence of the Almoravids. It was in this period that Islam first arrived in the region.

The Sosso kingdom (12th to 13th centuries) briefly flourished in the void but the Islamic Mandinka Mali Empire came to prominence when Soundiata Kéïta defeated the Sosso ruler, Soumangourou Kanté at the semi-historical Battle of Kirina in c. 1235. The Mali Empire was ruled by Mansa (Emperors), the most famous being Kankou Moussa, who made a famous hajj to Mecca in 1324. Shortly after his reign the Mali Empire began to decline and was ultimately supplanted by its vassal states in the 15th century.

The most successful of these was the Songhai Empire, expanding its power from about 1460, and eventually surpassing the Mali Empire in both territory and wealth. It continued to prosper until a civil war over succession followed the death of Askia Daoud in 1582. The weakened empire fell to invaders from Morocco at the Battle of Tondibi just 3 years later. The Moroccans proved unable to rule the kingdom effectively, however, and it split into many small kingdoms.

Samori Ture was the founder of the Wassoulou Empire, an Islamic state in present-day Guinea that resisted French colonial rule in West Africa from 1882 until Ture's capture in 1898.

After the fall of the major West African empires, various kingdoms existed in what is now Guinea. Fulani Muslims migrated to Futa Jallon in Central Guinea and established an Islamic state from 1735 to 1898 with a written constitution and alternate rulers. The Wassoulou or Wassulu empire was a short-lived (1878–1898) empire, led by Samori Ture in the predominately Malinké area of what is now upper Guinea and southwestern Mali (Wassoulou). It moved to Ivory Coast before being conquered by the French.

Colonial era[edit]

The slave trade came to the coastal region of Guinea with European adventurers in the 16th century. Slavery had always been part of everyday life but the scale increased as slaves were exported to work elsewhere in the triangular trade.

Guinea's colonial period began with French military penetration into the area in the mid-19th century. French domination was assured by the defeat in 1898 of the armies of Samori Touré, Mansa (or Emperor) of the Ouassoulou state and leader of Malinké descent, which gave France control of what today is Guinea and adjacent areas.

France negotiated Guinea's present boundaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the British for Sierra Leone, the Portuguese for their Guinea colony (now Guinea-Bissau), and Liberia. Under the French, the country formed the Territory of Guinea within French West Africa, administered by a governor general resident in Dakar. Lieutenant governors administered the individual colonies, including Guinea.

Independence and Post-Colonial Rule[edit]

In 1958 the French Fourth Republic collapsed due to political instability and its failures in dealing with its colonies, especially Indochina and Algeria. The founding of a Fifth Republic was supported by the French people, while French President Charles de Gaulle made it clear on 8 August 1958 that France's colonies were to be given a stark choice between more autonomy in a new French Community and immediate independence in the referendum to be held on 28 September 1958. The other colonies chose the former but Guinea — under the leadership of Ahmed Sékou Touré whose Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) had won 56 of 60 seats in 1957 territorial elections — voted overwhelmingly for independence. The French withdrew quickly, and on October 2, 1958, Guinea proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent republic, with Sékou Touré as president.

President Ahmed Sékou Touré was supported by the Communist bloc states and in 1961 visited Yugoslavia.

Following France's withdrawal, Guinea quickly aligned itself with the Soviet Union and adopted socialist policies. This alliance was short lived, however, as Guinea moved towards a Chinese model of socialism. Despite this, however, the country continued to receive aid and investment from capitalist countries such as the U.S.. Even the relationship with France improved, after the election of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing as president, trade increased and the two countries exchanged diplomatic visits.

By 1960, Touré had declared the PDG the only legal party. For the next 24 years, the government and the PDG were one. Touré was reelected unopposed to four seven-year terms as president, and every five years voters were presented with a single list of PDG candidates for the National Assembly. Advocating a hybrid African Socialism domestically and Pan-Africanism abroad, Touré quickly became a polarising leader, and his government became intolerant of dissent, imprisoning hundreds, and stifling free press. At the same time, the government nationalised land, removed French appointed and traditional chiefs from power, and broke ties with French government and companies. Vacillating between support for the Soviet Union and (by the late 1970s) the United States, Guinea's economic situation became as unpredictable as its diplomatic line. Alleging plots and conspiracies against him at home and abroad, Touré’s regime targeted real and imagined opponents, driving thousands of political opponents into exile.

In 1970, Portuguese forces, from neighboring Portuguese Guinea, staged Operation Green Sea, a raid into Guinea with the support of exiled Guinean opposition forces. Among other goals, the Portuguese military wanted to kill or capture Sekou Toure due his support of the PAIGC, a guerilla movement operating inside Portuguese Guinea.[15] After several days of fierce fighting, the Portuguese forces retreated without achieving most of their goals. The regime of Sékou Touré increased the number of internal arrests and executions.

Monument to commemorate the 1970 military victory over the Portuguese raid. The only objective not accomplished by the Portuguese raid was the capture of Ahmed Sékou Touré.

Sékou Touré died on March 26, 1984 after a heart operation in the United States, and was replaced by Prime Minister Louis Lansana Beavogui, who was to serve as interim president pending new elections.

The PDG was due to elect a new leader on April 3, 1984. Under the constitution, that person would have been the only candidate for president. However, hours before that meeting, Colonels Lansana Conté and Diarra Traoré seized power in a bloodless coup. Conté assumed the role of president, with Traoré serving as prime minister until December.

Conté immediately denounced the previous regime’s record on human rights, released 250 political prisoners and encouraged approximately 200,000 more to return from exile. He also made explicit the turn away from socialism, but this did little to alleviate poverty and the country showed no immediate signs of moving towards democracy.

In 1992, Conté announced a return to civilian rule, with a presidential poll in 1993 followed by elections to parliament in 1995 (in which his party - the Party of Unity and Progress - won 71 of 114 seats.) Despite his stated commitment to democracy, Conté's grip on power remained tight. In September 2001 the opposition leader Alpha Condé was imprisoned for endangering state security, though he was pardoned 8 months later. He subsequently spent a period of exile in France. In 2001 Conté organized and won a referendum to lengthen the presidential term and in 2003 begun his third term after elections were boycotted by the opposition. In January 2005, Conté survived a suspected assassination attempt while making a rare public appearance in the capital Conakry. His opponents claimed that he was a "tired dictator" [16] whose departure was inevitable, whereas his supporters believed that he was winning a battle with dissidents. Guinea still faces very real problems and according to Foreign Policy is in danger of becoming a failed state.[17]

In 2000 Guinea became embroiled in the instability which had long blighted the rest of West Africa as rebels crossed the borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone and it seemed for a time that the country was headed for civil war.[18] Conté blamed neighbouring leaders for coveting Guinea's natural resources, though these claims were strenuously denied.[19] In 2003 Guinea agreed plans with her neighbours to tackle the insurgents. In 2007 there were big protests against the government, resulting in the appointment of a new prime minister.[20]

Recent history[edit]

Conté remained in power until his death on 23 December 2008[21] and several hours following his death, Moussa Dadis Camara seized control in a coup, declaring himself head of a Military junta.[22]

Protest against the coup became violent and 157 people were killed when on 28 September 2009 the junta ordered its soldiers to attack people who had gathered to protest Camara's attempt to become President.[23] The soldiers went on a rampage of rape, mutilation, and murder which caused many foreign governments to withdraw their support for the new regime.[24]

On 3 December 2009, an aide shot Camara during a dispute about the rampage of September 2009. Camara went to Morocco for medical care.[24][25] Vice-President (and defense minister) Sékouba Konaté flew back from Lebanon to run the country in Camara's absence.[26] On 12 January 2010 Camara was flown from Morocco to Burkina Faso.[27] After meeting in Ouagadougou on 13 and 14 January, Camara, Konaté and Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso, produced a formal statement of twelve principles promising a return of Guinea to civilian rule within six months.[citation needed] It was agreed that the military would not contest the forthcoming elections, and Camara would continue to remain outside of Guinea.[28] On 21 January 2010 the military junta appointed Jean-Marie Doré as Prime Minister of a six-month transition government, leading up to elections.[29]

The presidential election was held on 27 June[30][31] and was the first free and fair election since independence in 1958. Ex Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and his rival Alpha Condé emerged as the two runners-up for the second round.[32] However, due to allegations of electoral fraud, the second round of the election was postponed until 19 September 2010[33] and then again until 10 October.[34] Yet another delay until 24 October was announced in early October.[35] Elections were finally held on 7 November. Voter turnout was high, and the elections went relatively smoothly.[36]

16 November 2010, Alpha Condé, the leader of the opposition party Rally of the Guinean People (RGP), was officially declared the winner and he promised to reform the security sector and review mining contracts.[37]

On the night of 18 July 2011, President Condé's residence was attacked in a failed attempted coup.[38][39]

In April 2012, President Condé postponed legislative elections indefinitely, citing the need to ensure that they were "transparent and democratic".[40]

2013 Protests[edit]

The opposition coalition withdrew from the electoral process in mid-February, mainly due to President Conde's insistence on using a suspicious South African firm Waymark Infotech to draw up the registered voter list.[41][42] In late February 2013, political violence erupted in Guinea after protesters took to the streets to voice their concerns over the transparency of the upcoming May 2013 elections. The demonstrations were fueled by the opposition coalition’s decision to step down from the electoral process in protest at the lack of transparency in the preparations for elections.[43] Nine people were killed during the protests, while around 220 were injured, and many of the deaths and injuries were caused by security forces using live fire on protesters.[41][44] The political violence also led to inter-ethnic clashes between the Fula and Malinke peoples, the latter forming the base of support for President Condé, with the former consisting mainly of the opposition.[45] On 26 March 2013 the opposition party backed out of the negotiation with the government over the upcoming 12 May election. The opposition claimed that the government has not respected them, and have not kept any promises they agreed to. This is expected to lead to more protests and fighting in the streets of Guinea.[46]

Government and Politics[edit]

Alpha Condé, the current President of Guinea.

The country is a republic. Directly elected by the people, the president is the Head of State and Head of Government. The Unicameral National Assembly is the legislative body of the country, and its members are directly elected by the people. The judicial branch is led by the Guinea Supreme Court, the highest and final Court of appeal in the country.[7] Guinea is a member of many international organizations including the African Union, Agency for the French-Speaking Community, African Development Bank, Economic Community of West African States, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, IMF, and the United Nations.

Executive branch[edit]

The president of Guinea is normally elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast to be elected president. The president governs Guinea, assisted by a council of 25 civilian ministers appointed by him. The government administers the country through eight regions, 33 prefectures, over 100 subprefectures, and many districts (known as communes in Conakry and other large cities and villages or "quartiers" in the interior). District-level leaders are elected; the president appoints officials to all other levels of the highly centralized administration.

Since the 2010 Presidential Elections, the head of state has been Alpha Condé.

Legislative branch[edit]

The National Assembly of Guinea, the country's legislative body, has not met since 2008 when it was dissolved after the military coup in December. Elections have been postponed many times since 2007. In April 2012, President Condé postponed the elections indefinitely, citing the need to ensure that they were "transparent and democratic".[40]

The 2013 Guinean legislative election were held on 24 September 2013.[47] President Alpha Condé's party, the Rally of the Guinean People (RPG), won a plurality of seats in the National Assembly of Guinea, with 53 out of 114 seats. The opposition parties won a total of 53 seats, and opposition leaders denounced the official results as fraudulent.

Military[edit]

Main article: Military of Guinea

Guinea's armed forces are divided into five branches – army, navy, air force, the paramilitary National Gendarmerie and the Republican Guard – whose chiefs report to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is subordinate to the Minister of Defense. In addition, regime security forces include the National Police Force (Sûreté National). The Gendarmerie, responsible for internal security, has a strength of several thousand.

The army, with about 15,000 personnel, is by far the largest branch of the armed forces. It is mainly responsible for protecting the state borders, the security of administered territories, and defending Guinea's national interests. Air force personnel total about 700. The force's equipment includes several Russian-supplied fighter planes and transports. The navy has about 900 personnel and operates several small patrol craft and barges.

Geography[edit]

Map of Guinea
Main article: Geography of Guinea

At 245,857 km2 (94,926 sq mi), Guinea is roughly the size of the United Kingdom. There are 320 km (200 mi) of coastline and a total land border of 3,400 km (2,100 mi). Its neighbours are Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone. It lies mostly between latitudes and 13°N, and longitudes and 15°W (a small area is west of 15°).

The country is divided into four main regions: the Basse-Coté lowlands, populated mainly by the Susu ethnic group; the cooler, mountainous Fouta Djallon that run roughly north-south through the middle of the country, populated by Fulas, the Sahelian Haute-Guinea to the northeast, populated by Malinké, and the forested jungle regions in the southeast, with several ethnic groups. Guinea's mountains are the source for the Niger, the Gambia, and Senegal Rivers, as well as the numerous rivers flowing to the sea on the west side of the range in Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.

The highest point in Guinea is Mount Nimba at 1,752 m (5,748 ft). Although the Guinean and Ivorian sides of the Nimba Massif are a UNESCO Strict Nature Reserve, the portion of the so-called Guinean Backbone continues into Liberia, where it has been mined for decades; the damage is quite evident in the Nzérékoré Region at 7°32′17″N 8°29′50″W / 7.53806°N 8.49722°W / 7.53806; -8.49722.

Regions and prefectures[edit]

Boké Region Conakry Region Conakry Region Faranah Region Kankan Region Kindia Region Labé Region Mamou Region Nzérékoré RegionA clickable map of Guinea exhibiting its eight administrative regions.
About this image
Satellite image of Guinea

The Republic of Guinea covers 245,857 square kilometres (94,926 sq mi) of West Africa about 10 degrees north of the equator. Guinea is divided into four natural regions with distinct human, geographic, and climatic characteristics:

  • Maritime Guinea (La Guinée Maritime) covers 18% of the country
  • Mid-Guinea (La Moyenne-Guinée) covers 20% of the country
  • Upper-Guinea (La Haute-Guinée) covers 38% of the country
  • Forested Guinea (Guinée forestière) covers 23% of the country, and is both forested and mountainous

Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures. Conakry is Guinea's capital, largest city, and economic centre. Nzérékoré, located in the Guinée forestière region in Southern Guinea, is the second largest city. Other major cities in the country with a population above 100,000 include Kankan, Kindia, Labe, Guéckédou, Boke, Mamou and Kissidougou. Guinea has four main regions: Maritime Guinea (La Guinée Maritime), Mid-Guinea (La Moyenne-Guinée), Upper-Guinea (La Haute-Guinée) and Forested Guinea (Guinée forestière).

Region Capital Population
(2014 census)
Conakry Region Conakry 1,667,864
Nzérékoré Region Nzérékoré 1,663,582
Kankan Region Kankan 1,986,329
Kindia Region Kindia 1,559,185
Boké Region Boké 1,081,445
Labé Region Labé 995,717
Faranah Region Faranah 942,733
Mamou Region Mamou 732,117
  • The capital Conakry with a population of 1,667,864 ranks as a special zone.

Economy[edit]

Main article: Economy of Guinea
Malinke fisher women on the Niger River, Niandankoro, Kankan Region, in eastern Guinea.

Guinea has abundant natural resources including 25 percent or more of the world's known bauxite reserves. Guinea also has diamonds, gold, and other metals. The country has great potential for hydroelectric power. Bauxite and alumina are currently the only major exports. Other industries include processing plants for beer, juices, soft drinks and tobacco. Agriculture employs 80 percent of the nation's labor force. Under French rule, and at the beginning of independence, Guinea was a major exporter of bananas, pineapples, coffee, peanuts, and palm oil.

Mining[edit]

Guinea possesses over 25 billion tonnes (metric tons) of bauxite – and perhaps up to one-half of the world's reserves. In addition, Guinea's mineral wealth includes more than 4-billion tonnes of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits, and undetermined quantities of uranium. Guinea has considerable potential for growth in agricultural and fishing sectors. Soil, water, and climatic conditions provide opportunities for large-scale irrigated farming and agro industry. Possibilities for investment and commercial activities exist in all these areas, but Guinea's poorly developed infrastructure and rampant corruption continue to present obstacles to large-scale investment projects.

Joint venture bauxite mining and alumina operations in northwest Guinea historically provide about 80% of Guinea's foreign exchange. Bauxite is refined into alumina, which is later smelted into aluminium. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea (CBG), which exports about 14 million tonnes of high-grade bauxite annually, is the main player in the bauxite industry. CBG is a joint venture, 49% owned by the Guinean Government and 51% by an international consortium known as Halco Mining Inc., a joint venture of Dadco Mining and Rio Tinto Alcan.[48] The Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), a joint venture between the Government of Guinea and RUSAL, produces some 2.5 million tonnes annually, nearly all of which is exported to Russia and Eastern Europe. Dian Dian, a Guinean/Ukrainian joint bauxite venture, has a projected production rate of 1,000,000 t (1,102,311 short tons; 984,207 long tons) per year, but is not expected to begin operations for several years. The Alumina Compagnie de Guinée (ACG), which took over the former Friguia Consortium, produced about 2.4 million tonnes in 2004 as raw material for its alumina refinery. The refinery exports about 750,000 tonnes of alumina. Both Global Alumina and Alcoa-Alcan have signed conventions with the Government of Guinea to build large alumina refineries with a combined capacity of about 4 million tonnes per year.

Graphical depiction of Guinea's product exports in 28 color-coded categories.

Diamonds and gold also are mined and exported on a large scale. AREDOR, a joint diamond-mining venture between the Guinean Government (50%) and an Australian, British, and Swiss consortium, began production in 1984 and mined diamonds that are 90% gem quality. Production stopped from 1993 until 1996, when First City Mining, of Canada, purchased the international portion of the consortium. The bulk of diamonds are mined artisanally. The largest gold mining operation in Guinea is a joint venture between the government and Ashanti Goldfields of Ghana. Société Minière de Dinguiraye (SMD) also has a large gold mining facility in Lero, near the Malian border.

Guinea has large reserves of the steel-making raw material, iron ore. Rio Tinto is the majority owner of the $6 billion Simandou iron ore project, which the firm says is the world's best unexploited resource.[49] Rio Tinto has signed a binding agreement with Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. to establish the joint venture for the Simandou iron ore project. This project is said to be of the same magnitude as the Pilbara in Western Australia.[citation needed] In the 1960s, Thomas Price, then vice president of US-based steel company Kaiser Steel, said, "I think this [the Pilbara] is one of the most massive ore bodies in the world."[50]

In September 2011, Guinea adopted a new mining code. The law set up a commission to review deals struck during the chaotic days between the end of dictatorship in 2008 and Condé coming to power.[51]

Controversy[edit]

In June 2012 The Sunday Times revealed that in April 2011, five months before the Mining Code became law, Mohamed Lamine Fofana, the mining minister, agreed a USD25 million loan with Palladino Capital, an investment vehicle registered in the British Virgin Islands by South African business man Walter Hennig. The deal was also signed by the finance minister, Kerfalla Yansane and Samuel Mebiane, who was listed as a "proxy holder" for Palladino.[51][52] This loan of US$25 million has never been publicly revealed to Guineans, or ticked off in the national budget, although President Alpha Condé has said that "contracts that commit Guinea will be published on the Internet."[53] The terms of the loan include a provision that if the Guinean government defaults, Palladino can convert the debt into an equivalent value in shares in the operations of one of the subsidiaries of the national mining company to a maximum of 30% stake.[54]

According to independently confirmed sources and an investigation conducted by Business Day of Johannesberg, Tokyo Sexwale, Mark Willcox (CEO of Sexwale’s Mvelaphanda Holdings) and several other businessmen of "South African, Polish, and British extraction" are behind Hennig and the $25 million loan.[55] This type of agreement is in violation with the Mining Code, which stipulates in Article 150 that "The State reserves the right to sell all or part of its participation in cash, without pre-emption rights of other shareholders of the holder of the mining company, through a bidding process that is open and transparent."[53]

Labour MP Eric Joyce is one of many who believe the loan could allow Palladino Capital, and by extension Walter Hennig, to gain a large stake in Guinea’s mining industry at a bargain price. George Soros has called on the Guinean government to fully investigate the loan.[56]

The loan was allegedly intended as a start-up for a state mining company though any potential investigation into the matter now will have to determine whether this was the genuine motive or whether the loan was intended to benefit political or individual interests in return for mining concessions.[57]

As a result of the loan to Guinea, the firm was to be granted as much as 49% of the equity stake and voting rights in the state mining company, as well as the option to choose to negotiate minority or majority stakes in any state-linked mining asset without reference to an open-bid licence process. Additionally, Guinea would not be permitted to sell any state interest in a mining asset without first offering the option to Palladino and should the firm wish to acquire a stake in a mining asset, it would be granted the privilege of a six-month negotiating period. If a deal could not then be struck, Guinea would only be allowed to negotiate with a third party without first right of refusal from Palladino.[57]

Problems and reforms[edit]

In 2002, the IMF suspended Guinea's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) because the government failed to meet key performance criteria. In reviews of the PRGF, the World Bank noted that Guinea had met its spending goals in targeted social priority sectors. However, spending in other areas, primarily defense, contributed to a significant fiscal deficit.[citation needed] The loss of IMF funds forced the government to finance its debts through Central Bank advances. The pursuit of unsound economic policies has resulted in imbalances that are proving hard to correct.

Under then-Prime Minister Diallo, the government began a rigorous reform agenda in December 2004 designed to return Guinea to a PRGF with the IMF. Exchange rates have been allowed to float, price controls on gasoline have been loosened, and government spending has been reduced while tax collection has been improved. These reforms have not reduced inflation, which hit 27% in 2004 and 30% in 2005. Currency depreciation is also a concern. The Guinea franc was trading at 2550 to the dollar in January 2005. It hit 5554 to the dollar by October 2006.

Despite the opening in 2005 of a new road connecting Guinea and Mali, most major roadways remain in poor repair, slowing the delivery of goods to local markets. Electricity and water shortages are frequent and sustained, and many businesses are forced to use expensive power generators and fuel to stay open.

Even though there are many problems plaguing Guinea's economy, not all foreign investors are reluctant to come to Guinea. Global Alumina's proposed alumina refinery has a price tag above $2 billion. Alcoa and Alcan are proposing a slightly smaller refinery worth about $1.5 billion. Taken together, they represent the largest private investment in sub-Saharan Africa since the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline. Also, Hyperdynamics Corporation, an American oil company, signed an agreement in 2006 to develop Guinea's offshore Senegal Basin oil deposits in a concession of 31,000 square miles (80,000 km2); it is pursuing seismic exploration.[58]

On 13 October 2009, Guinean Mines Minister Mahmoud Thiam announced that the China International Fund would invest more than $7bn (£4.5bn) in infrastructure. In return, he said the firm would be a "strategic partner" in all mining projects in the mineral-rich nation. He said the firm would help build ports, railway lines, power plants, low-cost housing and even a new administrative centre in the capital, Conakry.[59] In September 2011, Mohamed Lamine Fofana, the Mines Minister following the 2010 election, said that the government had overturned the agreement by the ex-military junta.[60]

Youth unemployment, however, remains a large problem. Guinea needs an adequate policy to address the concerns of the urban youth. The problem is the disparity between their life and what they see on television. As the youth cannot find jobs, seeing the economic power and consumerism of richer countries only serves to frustrate them further.[61]

Oil[edit]

Guinea signed a Production sharing agreement with Hyperdynamics Corporation of Houston in 2006 to explore a large offshore tract, recently in partnership with Dana Petroleum PLC (Aberdeen, United Kingdom). The initial well, the Sabu-1, is scheduled to begin drilling in October 2011 at a site in approximately 700 meters of water. The Sabu-1 will target a four-way anticline prospect with upper Cretaceous sands and is anticipated to be drilled to a total depth of 3,600 meters.[62]

Transportation[edit]

Main article: Transport in Guinea
Further information: Rail transport in Guinea

The railway from Conakry to Kankan ceased operating in the mid-1980s.[citation needed] Domestic air services are intermittent. Most vehicles in Guinea are 20+ years old, and cabs are any four-door vehicle which the owner has designated as being for hire. Locals, nearly entirely without vehicles of their own, rely upon these taxis (which charge per seat) and small buses to take them around town and across the country. There is some river traffic on the Niger and Milo rivers. Horses and donkeys pull carts, primarily to transport construction materials.

Iron mining at Simandou (South) in the southeast beginning in 2007 and at Kalia in the east is likely to result in the construction of a new heavy-duty standard gauge railway and deepwater port. Iron mining at Simandou (North) will load to a new port near Buchanan, Liberia, in exchange for which rehabilitation of the Conakry to Kankan line will occur.[citation needed]

Conakry International Airport is the largest airport in the country, with flights to other cities in Africa as well as to Europe.

Demography[edit]

Main article: Demography of Guinea
Guinean children

The population of Guinea is estimated at 10.2 million. Conakry, the capital and largest city, is the hub of Guinea's economy, commerce, education, and culture.

Languages[edit]

Main article: Languages of Guinea

The official language of Guinea is French. Other significant languages spoken are Pular (Fulfulde or Fulani), Maninka (Malinke), Susu, Kissi, Kpelle, and Loma.

Ethnicity[edit]

The population of Guinea comprises about 24 ethnic groups. The Fulas or Fulani (French: Peuls; Fula: Fulɓe), comprise 40% of the population and are mostly found in the Futa Djallon region. The Mandinka, also known as Mandingo or Malinké, comprise 30% of the population and are mostly found in eastern Guinea concentrated around the Kankan and Kissidougou prefectures. The Soussou, comprising 20%, are predominantly in western areas around the capital Conakry, Forécariah, and Kindia. Smaller ethnic groups make up the remaining 10% of the population, including Kpelle, Kissi, Zialo, Toma and others.[citation needed] Approximately 10,000 non-Africans live in Guinea, predominantly Lebanese, French, and other Europeans.[63]

Religion[edit]

Further information: Islam in Guinea
Further information: Roman Catholicism in Guinea
The Conakry Grand Mosque in Guinea, one of the largest mosques in West Africa

Islam is the majority religion. Approximately 85% of the population is Muslim, while 8% is Christian, and 7% holds traditional animist beliefs. Guinean Muslims are generally Sunni of Maliki school of jurisprudence, influenced with Sufism,[64] with many Ahmadiyya;[65] there are relatively few Shi'a in Guinea. Christian groups include Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and other Evangelical groups. Jehovah's Witnesses are active in the country and recognized by the Government. There is a small Baha'i community. There are small numbers of Hindus, Buddhists, and traditional Chinese religious groups among the expatriate community.[66]

Culture[edit]

Like other West African countries, Guinea has a rich musical tradition. The group Bembeya Jazz became popular in the 1960s after Guinean independence. Guinean cuisine varies by region with rice as a common staple. Cassava is also widely consumed.[67] Part of West African cuisine, the foods of Guinea include fufu, jollof rice, maafe, tapalapa bread. In rural areas food is eaten from a large serving dish and eaten by hand outside of homes.[68]

Education[edit]

Schoolgirls in Conakry, Guinea

The literacy rate of Guinea is one of the lowest in the world: in 2003 it was estimated that only 29.5% of adults were literate (42.6% of males and 18.1% of females).[69] Primary education is compulsory for 8 years, but most children do not attend for so long, and many do not go to school at all. In 1999, primary school attendance was 40 percent.Children, particularly girls, are kept out of school in order to assist their parents with domestic work or agriculture.[70]

Health[edit]

Further information: Health in Guinea

Ebola[edit]

Further information: 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak

In 2014 there was an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea. In response, the health ministry banned the sale and consumption of bats, thought to be carriers of the disease. Despite this measure, the virus eventually spread from rural areas to Conakry,[71] and by late June 2014 had spread to neighboring countries Sierra Leone and Liberia.[72]

Maternal and child healthcare[edit]

In June 2011, the United Nations Population Fund released a report on The State of the World's Midwifery. It contained new data on the midwifery workforce and policies relating to newborn and maternal mortality for 58 countries. The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Guinea is 680. This is compared with 859.9 in 2008 and 964.7 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 146 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 29. In Guinea the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 1 and the lifetime risk of death for pregnant women is 1 in 26. [73]

HIV/AIDS[edit]

Main article: HIV/AIDS in Guinea

An estimated 170,000 adults and children were infected at the end of 2004.[74][75] Surveillance surveys conducted in 2001 and 2002 show higher rates of HIV in urban areas than in rural areas. Prevalence was highest in Conakry (5%) and in the cities of the Forest Guinea region (7%) bordering Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.[76]

HIV is spread primarily through multiple-partner heterosexual intercourse. Men and women are at nearly equal risk for HIV, with young people aged 15 to 24 most vulnerable. Surveillance figures from 2001–2002 show high rates among commercial sex workers (42%), active military personnel (6.6%), truck drivers and bush taxi drivers (7.3%), miners (4.7%), and adults with tuberculosis (8.6%).[76]

Several factors are fueling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Guinea. They include unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners, illiteracy, endemic poverty, unstable borders, refugee migration, lack of civic responsibility, and scarce medical care and public services.[76]

Malnutrition[edit]

Malnutrition is a serious problem for Guinea. A 2012 study reported high chronic malnutrition rates, with levels ranging from 34% to 40% by region, as well as acute malnutrition rates above 10% in Upper Guinea’s mining zones. The survey showed that 139,200 children suffer from acute malnutrition, 609,696 from chronic malnutrition and further 1,592,892 suffer from anemia. Degradation of care practices, limited access to medical services, inadequate hygiene practices and a lack of food diversity explain these levels.[77]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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