Guinea is a country in West Africa roughly the same size as the United Kingdom. It has 320 kms of coast line and it shares its northern border with Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and with Mail. Its Southern border is shared with Sierre Leone, Liberia and the Ivory Coast. Guinea is predominately an Islamic country with Muslims representing roughly 85 percent of the population. French is the official language and the main language taught in schools, in the media and the government. There are however also roughly 245 indigenous languages spoken. The coastal region of Guinea and most of the inland has a tropical climate. Its rainy season lasts typically from April to November, and it has a high humidity.
Guinea’s economy is reliant primarily on agriculture and mining. In 2011 according to an article in Wealth Wire it was voted no 5 in the world for the top countries in mining, and was holding a very promising future for its mining industry. According to the article the country had $222 billion worth of bauxite reserves, and an economy reliant largely on the mining industry. Roughly 25 percent of the country’s income comes from mining and it has tremendous mineral resources available. The country is home to one of the world’s largest bauxite reserves, and is estimated to contain 24 percent of the world’s bauxite reserves. Guinea also has rich deposits of diamonds and gold. However because of Guineas poorly developed infrastructure and rampant corruption large scale investment projects continue to be problematic and a concern.
Guinea is a country which has warm genuine people. The country has the potential for expatriates to have a great life. In Conakry where many expats live they can meet up on the beach at sunset. The food is very good as is the live music and scenery. Outside of Conakry, there are many attractive tourist destinations. The French-Guinean Cultural Centre has some great musical shows as well as movies, ballet and plays. The Foutah Djallon has wonderful hikes with beautiful waterfalls and cliffs. For those expats who enjoy the sun and surf, the coastline from Conakry up towards Guinea-Bissau is fantastic, with beautiful untouched beaches, and wildlife.
Kamsar is where many of the mining expats live as it is the main bauxite mining export town. You can expect to find some good hotels and restaurants in Kamsar that cater primarily for its mining executives and expats.
On the downside the literacy rate of Guinea is one of the lowest in the world. Worse still and not good news for mining expatriates considering moving to Guinea is that health is of a major concern as well with the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus recently which has now spread to neighbouring countries Sierra Leone and Liberia. According to Wiktravel as of June 2014 doctors without borders warn that the outbreak of Ebola is now completely out of control with over 360 fatalities in Guinea and neighbouring countries. For this reason expats are being warned to rather stay away from Guinea. Many foreign mining companies have locked down operations and evacuated some staff. According to Australian Mining, Reuters have reported that mining firms are more concerned about the disease in the densely populated capital of Conakry than in the remote mining sites of the interior where controls are easier to implement. Considering that Ebola has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent, this is not surprising and they have good reason to be concerned. Malnutrition is also a major problem in Guinea with a 2012 study reporting malnutrition rates ranging up to 40% depending on the region and according to Wikipedia around 10% in Upper Guineas mining zones. HIV and AIDS are also of major concern in Guinea.
To add to the already worrisome health issues in the country, Guinea is also unsafe, and lawlessness and criminal activities are widespread, with violent crime on the increase. Corruption is rife, with foreigners often being targeted by officials in military uniform. Criminals often target visitors at the airport, near hotels and in restaurants that are frequented by foreigners. For this reason should you decide to work in Guinea you need to stay alert and apply common sense at all times. It is not uncommon for expats to live in high walled high security compounds, car jacking’s are common. Not only is criminal activity a problem, but the continued instability in neighbouring countries and armed banditry in the region are causing a lot of tension and problems in Guinea.
Should you still want to consider working in Guinea, a valid passport and a business visa are required (except for ECOWAS member nation’s citizens). All in all It seems that the potential is there for a great expat experience, and there are expats who have had very positive experiences working in Guinea, but at present there are some major obstacles that really need to be sorted out before considering moving to Guinea.