Today, Guinea is one of the least known/talked about country in Africa. After a bold gesture to gain its independence from France, the country subsequently faced some economic and political challenges that effectively contributed to its marginalization. Moreover, the lack of highly sought-after minerals or precious oil reserves that some of its neighbors have been endowed with have, for some time, undermined the country’s ability to attract considerable foreign investments and generate crucial government revenues. Despite remaining one of the poorest countries in the Africa, the prospects for a more prosperous Guinea look bright. Thus, to the leaders of Guinea: the ball is in your court. Within the next decade or so, you have the ability to improve the lives of every single Guinean citizen.
Building on recent political and economic achievements, Guinean leaders should focus on strengthening domestic institutions and infrastructures in order to guarantee that the government is able to deliver services to its people. This can primarily be achieved by continuing and even fostering greater economic and strategic cooperation with Guinea’s most important partner, China. Unlike many countries in the West, China has realized Guinea’s incredible potential for rapid economic development. Ironically, the under-exploitation of Guinea’s mineral reserves, which has hampered the potential benefits that could be reaped from the country’s natural resources, has also spared the country from the troubles that now pervade the more extraction-oriented economies of Africa. In addition, the recent revision of the mining code has laid the ground for better public-private partnership, which Herbst and Mills argue, is critical to African development.
In the same vein, the development of Guinea’s hydro-power capacity will be an important step in assuring that Guinea is propelled into a period of economic growth. Nick-named the “Water Tower of West Africa”, Guinea’s immense hydro-power potential is estimated to be over 6000 MW. More projects like the Kaleta Dam financed by China will not only increase the government’s capacity to furnish electricity to every household in Guinea, but also turn the country into a major exporter of power to neighboring countries. This could be a major source of revenues for the government, reinforcing its means to provide Guinean citizens with basic necessities. Consequently, as Guinea furthers its partnership with global leaders like China to develop its infrastructures, it should seek to establish greater commercial ties with regional partners.
Lastly, the democratic gains that Guinea achieved over the last five years represent a crucial steppingstone to transforming Guinean society. Herbst and Mills attest that democracy is one of the drivers that will propel positive change in African countries but whose effect partly depends on how the government of the day reacts (Herbst & Mills, 2006). Therefore, it is imperative that President Alpha Conde continues to improve the rule of law and promote good governance. In doing so, Guinean leaders will be able to maintain a healthy relationship with the West, which, despite all the wounds they have inflicted upon the continent, is critical for the socioeconomic and political future of the country. Ultimately, as Guinea build on those relationships with the East and the West, it is of utmost significance for the country’s leaders to stay vigilant and break old traditions by acting on the best interest of the people.
Herbst, Jeffrey and Greg Mills. Africa in 2020: Three Scenarios for the Future. Brenthurst Discussion Papers, 2/2006.