Guinea - Foreign investment

Guinea's national identity rests on its proud "non" to the French community in 1958 and its offers of economic assistance in exchange for political independence, and; even though the country has gone through substantial political and economic liberalization since the passing independence hero, Sékou Touré, in 1984, the legacy still inhibits the embrace of foreign investment., The only sectors of the economy in which private foreign investment were originally allowed after independence were mining and energy, but in the early 1980s agricultural investment was also being sought During 1983–85, direct foreign investment amounted to $2.2 million.

An investment code following the 1984 coup indicated a new emphasis on private investment and incentives. It was replaced by the currently applicable investment code of 1987, as amended in 1995, which pledged national treatment, free repatriation of capital, special incentives for small and medium-size enterprises, nonmining exports, enterprises using over 70% local inputs, and those locating outside of Conakry. In 1989, under donor pressure, the government leased the operation of Conakry's water supply in a 10-year contract to a consortium led by the SARU and Vivendi companies of France operating as the management company SEEG (Société de Exploitation des Eaux de Guinée). The water quality was improved, but the price rose from $.14 m3 in 1988 to $.83 m3 in 1996. After initial gains in efficiency, SEEG could not make further headway against nepotism and corruption and could not devise a way to get the government to pay its bills. Although the contract was renewed in June 2001, the private companies left in frustration. In 2003, under drought conditions, repeated riots in Conakry have protested the scarcity of water and electricity.

In 1992, investment policies were liberalized to permit private ventures in most sectors, including mining and telecommunications, and the Office of Private Investment Promotion (OPIP) was established as a one-stop shop to facilitate the process. By the revised mining code of 1995, foreigners could own up to 85% of mining ventures. The main bauxite mining company in Guinea, CBG (Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée), is owned 49% by the government and 51% by Halco, which is a consortium of foreign companies made up of Alcan (Canada, 33%); Alcoa and its subsidiary, Reynolds (United States, 13%); Pechiney (France, 10%); VAW (Germany, 10%); and Comalco (Australia, 4%). In 2003, the smaller state-owned SBK (Société des Bauxites de Kindia-Debelé) mine, built in the 1970's as part of a barter agreement with the USSR to pay off loans by providing bauxite to a smelter in the Ukraine, was being managed by Russian Aluminum (RusAl). In 2003, RusAl also planned to acquire the Friguia mine, site of the first aluminum smelter in Africa and now badly in need of privatization and modernizing.

In 1992, the postal service was separated from telecommunications to allow outside participation in the latter. In December 1995 Telekom Malaysia Berhad acquired a 60% stake in SOTELGUI, the state telecommunications company. In the mobile sector, SOTELGUI competes against Spacetel (Israel) and Telecel (US-based).

Diamond mining in Guinea has recently attracted explorations by De Beers (South Africa), Hymex and Trivalence Mining Corporations (Canadian), and Aredor Holding Company (Australia). Aredor has a reputation for non-transparent operations in gold mining in Guinea, leaving a few government officials wealthy and the local population with only a degraded and polluted environment. Gold mining in Guinea, like diamond mining, has until recently been mainly traditional and informal (illegal), but the Ghanaian company, Ashanti Goldfields, has operations in Guinea.

In 1995, revisions to the investment code divided the country into four administrative zones to better service foreign investment projects. Significant foreign direct investment projects for 1997 to 1998 included a $200 million railway repair by Slovak Railways, a $45 million gold exploration by Ashanti Goldfields, a $24 million diamond exploration by Société Aurifere de Guinée and Hymex Diamant, a $20 million expansion and modernization project by the government of Iran, and an $8 million diamond operation by De Beers. Foreign direct investment (FDI) averaged $17.55 million in 1997–98. In May 1999, the government, with the support of OPIP and UNIDO, hosted an investors' forum to which 500 potential investors were invited and over 100 potential investment projects were presented. In 1999, FDI peaked at $63.4 million, whereas for 2000 and 2001, the average was $35.5 million

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User Contributions:

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