Agriculture is one of the engines of the Guinean economy. Natural assets like topography, hydrography and climate bestowed upon the country create ideal conditions for developing dynamic and diversified agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry.
As the most important economic activity, agriculture involves 67% of the active population and accounts for 33% of GNP. Vast domains are irrigable and good farming opportunities exist in the Forest Region, in plains (especially in Maritime Guinea and Upper Guinea) or in bottom lands.
Agriculture focuses on major subsistence crops like rice (population’s staple food), cassava, maize, yam, and peanuts.
The formulation of an Agricultural Development Policy Letter (LDPA) has allowed the boosting of rural development, the opening of new prospects in the agricultural sector since 1991 with the support of development partners.
In this way and with the objective of making use and taking advantage of existing synergies, concrete and complementary actions have been taken in the field of agronomic research, agricultural extension services, hydro-agricultural development, feeder roads and product commercialization.
Animal breeding is extensive in general. The Fouta Djallon region is the primary breeding area with more than half the livestock number. Upper Guinea comes second. The livestock is composed of cattle (with the N’Dama breed which is highly valued and trypano-resistant), sheep, goats and pigs (80 % of the latter is found in the Forest region).
Under the Animal Breeding Sector Restructuring Project (P.R.S.F) which started in 1987, the government has devised a set of measures including:
The country is presently self-sufficient in meat but it depends heavily on imported dairy products. Achievements are particularly significant in the privatization of vet services to address animal health.
As far as fishing is concerned, Guinea, stretching over a coast of 300 km long with an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles, possesses tremendous fish resources but these are inadequately exploited.
Fisheries represent a vital sector of the economy and therefore a source of foreign exchange earnings. At the same time, this activity provides 40 % of animal proteins consumed in the country. In its artisanal form and under projects initiated by the government, reactivation efforts have been undertaken and units equipped with motorized fishing boats along with the provision of modern tools.
Industrial-scale fishing is making headway. It is a very promising activity. The most commonly hauled species include sea breams, threadfins, sharks, and shrimps.
In general terms, industry appears as a disaster-stricken sector. Thanks to the new liberalization policy, some private investors have expressed interest in taking over some enterprises or in establishing SMEs. In addition to the rare plants existing before and which have survived the First Republic, new industrial units have been created.
With varied successful stories we can name ENTAG (tobacco processing), SOMIAG, SOBRAGUI, SALGUIDIA, Ciment Factory of Guinea, CEG (mineral water), SOGUIPHARM and SOGUIPAH.
The Guinean industry with the private sector as key player since 1985 is characterized by youthfulness, limited scale, inadequate promotion of resources and local products, exclusive quasi-orientation to the domestic market and to the production of consumer goods (agrifoodstuffs).
Mining and geology
The mining industry mainly relates to the extraction of bauxite, diamond and gold.
Three big companies are operating in the sector of bauxite and alumina. They are:
Companies involved in the sector of gold and diamond at the moment are the following:
Several new operations have started already or are at the stage of take-off.
In the area of gold and diamond, the following companies are involved : Semanfo (from Canada) and DE CASSIDYGOLD Corporation for gold; TRIVALENCE Mining (Canada) and DIA BRAS for diamond. Already in the field, these companies are at the exploration stage.
In the bauxite/alumina sector, a number of big projects are in the process of being finalized.
KAMSAR Alumina Plant Project conceived by Alcoa and Alcan. It is an alumina refinery project expected to produce 1.5 million tons of alumina per year.
GLOBAL Project composed of MARUBENI and MITSUBISHI from Japan in partnership with an American venture capital company. They have just concluded a convention with the Guinean government for the construction of a 2.8 million ton capacity alumina refinery.
In the field of iron, two large projects are on the path of implementation:
In the sector of trade, the free enterprise economy adopted by the 2nd Republic has resulted in establishing a policy aiming at a greater revitalization of this activity which can support and stimulate national production efforts.
Domestic Trade: Trade liberalization through privatized distribution and commercialization functions and by the elimination of public enterprises has made space for fair and effective competition in business transactions.
The monopolization system has been abolished. The government and the Chamber of Commerce together determine the rules of the game and see to it that these are applied. In accordance with the national prices policy matching the objectives of the government, national and foreign economic players are no longer subject to an imposed programme of importation or exportation.
The Department of Commerce has also taken measures to ensure the freedom of pricing, putting emphasis on supplying the country with basic consumer products or convenience goods. Trading is not restricted except when it relates to strategic or hazardous products or violates rules and regulations on health and on moral standards.
The procedure for importing goods is channelled through the Central Bank (BCRG), the importer’s local bank and a registered private company charged with inspecting the consignment prior to embarkation.
This necessary control gives rise to the issuance of a verification certificate whereby the merchandise need only customs declaration along with shipment and transport documents.
With the exception of the pre-embarkation control, the procedure symmetrically follows the opposite way in the case of export. Foreign exchange is obtained through the instituted interbank foreign exchange auction market.
Foreign Trade: The objective assigned to foreign trade is to ensure the commercialization and promotion of export goods.
The strategy designed to reflate agricultural produce exports aims at increasing production and opening outlets on sub-regional and international markets.
Since 1985, the exportation of agricultural produce has increased significantly thanks to the reactivation of coffee, cotton, oil palm and fruit and vegetable production. Even though export volumes remain still low comparatively to potentials, a noticeable progression has been observed.
With the progress made in areas like coffee, rubber plantations, fruits and cotton, medium-term prospects are seemingly encouraging. Private commercial banks presently established in Guinea are:
The development of this sector is languid despite the great potentials of the country’s rich cultural diversity.
Major activities in the sector are : dyeing, shoemaking, sculpture/woodcarving, pottery and cabinet making. Products deriving from these activities are mainly limited to supplying the domestic market. Nonetheless, because of their variety and remarkable quality, they are very much liked by tourists and they arouse great interest during international trade fairs.
Since 1984, a programme has been implemented to modernize telecommunications. In July 1992, a law was promulgated to reorganize the sector ; as a result, two stand-alone entities were established in 1993: the Guinean Post Office (OPG) and the Telecommunication Company of Guinea (SOTELGUI). After a first phase, the capital of the 2nd Company was opened to private shareholding but the government however still owns 60% of the shares.
In accordance with the conditions of contract, SOTELGUI has developed basic telephony and public phone booths.
Although the capacity of the network is continuously improving, it falls far short of expectations in comparison with the growing demand to be satisfied.
In response to the present growing demand from private enterprises, cellular phones have gained a strong foothold in Conakry.
In order to develop all its tourism assets, the government has formulated a national policy which is progressively forging ahead. The implementation of the policy through an appropriate and dynamic organization and through fund raising to finance the required facilities will render Guinea a dreamed and profitable destination in a very near future. Seven agencies are presently marketing the “Guinea Destination”. They are : Mondial Tours, Karou-Voyages, Guinée-Voyages, SDV, Agence DAS, Théa-Voyages and ITV.