Saturday, May 18, 2013

Economic predators rule in Guinea

Economic predators rule in Guinea

By David Gleason | BD LiveThu, Nov 29, 2012

NOT even the most avid tourist has much cause to visit Guinea. But the country does host extraordinary mineral reserves. It is the world’s largest repository of bauxite and its Simandou range contains one of the richest known undeveloped iron-ore reserves anywhere. Gold and bauxite mining are important contributors to its impoverished gross domestic product (GDP). The Siguiri gold mine is part of AngloGold Ashanti’s portfolio (249,000oz of production last year).
The base metals supercycle, inspired by unprecedented growth in China and India, meant Guinea came to be looked at with renewed interest. With a new president in place (Alpha Condé), the government has been reviewing exploration and mining licences that have been issued under previous regimes and altered or confirmed under the military government, led first by Dadis Camara and then by Sékouba Konaté.

Guinea has been considered no-go territory ever since it achieved independence from France in 1958. Ruled by two dictators until December 2008, it was then subjected to military control that was ended by hotly disputed elections won by Condé in December 2010.

Was South Africa involved in Condé’s election? Waymark Infotech, a South African company with a record of providing voter registration services to various African countries, was retained by Condé’s political party, then drafted into government service. Guinea 58, a Guinean news website, reported in May the country’s finance department noted that an amendment between the government and Waymark was "negotiated eyes closed". It went on to reveal that Waymark charged $14m instead of $3m for its first due payment.

As I reported in an earlier column, Waymark was removed from the United Nations list of approved service providers in September 2008 (Participant information, UN). Independent Online (September 20) reported that Waymark’s involvement in a remake of Guinea’s electoral list led opposition leader Lansana Kouyate to tell marching protesters: "We are calling for the departure of Waymark, a company that was recruited by Alpha Condé."

The extent to which corruption and violence in Guinea have become endemic is reflected in the assassination on November 11 of Treasury chief Aissatou Boiro, who was gunned down while driving home in Conakry. The Financial Times reports that Boiro was totally intolerant of corruption and was investigating $1.8m that went missing from the state’s coffers. "She became inconvenient for certain economic predators who are in government," said economist Idrissa Camara.

South African interest in Guinea has certainly increased in recent years. I reported in this column (June 8) that the UK’s Sunday Times (June 3) revealed a secret deal between the Guinean government and companies owned by South African businessman Walter Hennig. His British Virgin Island companies, Palladino, Florus Bell and, later, Palladino 2, made available a loan of $25m to assist in the development of a state mining company.

It appeared that, under certain circumstances, Palladino 2 could end up holding about 30% of the equity in the state mining company. This created such a furore that Hennig categorically denied this element of the deal and later revealed the loan had been repaid, although no reasons for this were given.

Hennig was also involved in the 2008 establishment, with Mvelaphanda Holdings and UK-based investment company Och-Ziff, of Africa Management. It spawned African Global Capital, which Mvela founder Tokyo Sexwale said would build on an already strong foothold across the continent. Although there has been no public announcement, I understand from reliable sources in London that this arrangement has been unwound.

As though to replace it, the Financial Times reports that a group of investors led by Jan Kulczyk, Poland’s richest man, and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund are bankrolling a $700m company investing in mineral exploration in Africa and South America. Apparently the project will be managed by Lloyd Pengilly and Roger Kennedy, both senior former JP Morgan executives. I understand that Mvela is a major silent investor and that Och-Ziff is also involved.

Pengilly, originally a mining engineer at Western Deep Levels gold mine and then a stockbroking analyst, was more recently chairman of JP Morgan’s African business. He left the firm very quietly in September this year without any official announcement from the company, although a financial news service said he was dismissed. Pengilly has long been close to Hennig, Mvela Holdings CE Mark Willcox and Sexwale.

Two other prominent London businessmen involved in handling high-level JP Morgan deals out of South Africa are Ian Hamman and Lord Robert Renwick. They formed a triumvirate with Pengilly, it is said. Hamman left JP Morgan in April after being fined $720,000 in the UK for insider trading. Renwick was UK high commissioner to South Africa (1987-91) and ambassador to the US (1991-95).
Meanwhile, a key issue in Guinea is how the Condé administration will handle existing mining licences. Rio Tinto, which previously held the key Simandou iron ore concessions, lost two of these when a previous government alleged it failed to comply with the terms of the licences. It negotiated a joint venture with Aluminium Company of China (Chinalco) to develop the remaining two. Chinalco is to pay Rio $1.35bn and Rio then paid $700m to the Condé government.

The Simandou concessions taken from Rio were transferred to Beny Steinmetz Group Resources, which then entered into a joint venture with Brazilian mining house Vale, which is to pay $2.5bn in stages. The joint venture, VBG, is now the subject of an investigation by the Guinean mines ministry, which says the Beny Steinmetz group has been accused of bribery and corruption in securing its licences. The company has hotly denied this.

Guinea’s new mining code was prepared by Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an institution founded with the help of multi-billionaire George Soros. It is widely rumoured, and written about, that Soros and Steinmetz are not on good terms. Soros denies knowing Steinmetz; Steinmetz relates hosting Soros to a dinner in Davos with former Ukraine president Viktor Yuschenko.

The Vale-Beny Steinmetz Group licences look to be heading for a fight to the finish. The future role of interested South African companies remains unclear.

Murky mineral deals in Guinea


GUINEA sits on an extraordinary treasure trove of base metals. It enjoys the world’s largest known reserve of bauxite, and its Simandou deposit in the south has the potential to become the site of the largest integrated iron-ore mines and infrastructure project ever developed in Africa.
But the country is dirt poor and most of its 10-million population live in unacceptable conditions.
This can be laid at the feet of two dictators, first Sékou Touré, who led the country to independence from France in 1958, then Lansana Conté, who lasted until his death in 2008. An army captain, Moussa Dadis Camara, then seized power and lasted until an assassination attempt in December 2009. Interim president Sékouba Konaté handed power to the incumbent, Alpha Condé, in December 2010.
But Condé’s election was controversial. He lost the first round of voting to Dalein Diallo, who collected 44% of the votes cast. Condé was second with 18% and Sidya Touré third with 13%. Ten days ahead of the final round, Guinea’s electoral commission chief was jailed for a year for electoral fraud.
Al-Jazeera, a news and current affairs channel, said Diallo "is expected to win the run-off vote".
He didn’t. Repeated delays in arranging the second round enabled ethnic groups to mobilise around Condé, who won with a margin of 141,000 votes after 177,000 votes were declared invalid. Unsurprisingly, Diallo cried foul.
South Africa’s involvement in the election is certainly intriguing — and shrouded in mystery.
I am advised, but have been given no supporting proof, that this country’s security services were involved. A local company, Waymark Infotech, providing IT solutions and services, has held a number of contracts to provide voter registration systems for African countries.
It is, apparently, black economic empowerment-qualified, and all of its shares are said to be owned by black shareholders.
Benin alleged in 2008 that the system it used was unreliable and the manner in which it secured the contract was questionable.
It was chucked out early in tendering for the Cameroonian election this year. In South Africa, Waymark was axed by the Department of Trade and Industry after it was accused of improperly securing an R11m contract to maintain information technology for the former Cipro (now the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission).
It was alleged that President Condé’s son, Mohamed Alpha Condé, worked for Waymark at one stage and introduced the company to the administration.
Rioters in Guinea in September 2010 displayed protest banners that read: "Waymark should get out of Guinea elections".
It was reported that the Guinean finance department said Waymark’s contract work amounted to $3m, but the invoice was for $14m. And the United Nations website reveals that Waymark was removed from its list of approved service providers in September 2008. Waymark’s own website is inaccessible.
What has happened since Condé assumed the presidency is electrifying — much of it rooted in the past. When Camara seized power in December 2008 he brought technocrats into his administration, among them Mahmoud Thiam, whose father was arrested by Sékou Touré’s police, tortured and murdered. Thiam and a sibling were smuggled out of Guinea. Thiam went on to study in the US, and a financial career with US institutions.
Thiam’s appointment was as minister of mines and his first action was to begin a reassessment of the various exploration and mining licences that had been awarded. Among these was the licence given to Rio Tinto, the British-based international mining house, for the Simandou 1,2,3 and 4 iron-ore deposits, the heart of the Simandou prospect.
Rio Tinto is also the owner of some of the major iron ore deposits in Australia known as the Pilbara, where it has advanced plans to ship as much as 283-million tons a year to China, on its way to a final delivery of 353-million tons a year. Logically, therefore, and in line with the policy adopted by many major mining houses, it seeks to sterilise the capabilities in deposits which, in the hands of its peers, might present stiff competition — if not in terms of swift delivery then certainly in price. Rio has been in Guinea since 1994.
Not one ton of iron ore has been exported since then.
Rio complained bitterly about the decision by Thiam to reconfirm an earlier decision by a previous mines minister, Lounceny Nabe (now governor of Guinea’s central bank), to relieve it of its rights to Simandou 1 and 2, but seems now to have accepted this. It has entered into an agreement with the Aluminium Corporation of China, Chinalco, in which Chinalco bought a 44.35% interest for $1.35bn (with the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank, owning 5%).
Now here’s the intriguing bit. In terms of the Guinean government’s latest reappraisal of the mining and exploration licences granted, Rio has agreed to pay more than $700m to the government. Rio’s stakes won’t be subject to any further challenge.
Is this a penalty for past failures to comply with the terms of the earlier licences or an advance payment to avoid retribution?
This leaves Simandou licence areas 1 and 2. These were granted in 2008, and reconfirmed during Thiam’s term as mines minister, to BSG Resources (BSGR), managed by Geneva-based Onyx’s London office. The award came after BSGR had discovered a new iron-ore deposit more than 100km south of the key Simandou areas, now called Zogota. Drilling to prove the Simandou 1 and 2 deposits at a cost of $160m, BSGR entered into a development deal with Brazilian mining house Vale, to which it sold a 51% stake for $2.5bn, a sum to be paid when several milestones are achieved.
Information from various sources is that well-placed Guinean officials have suggested that a down payment of $1.25bn — once again, and as in the case of Rio and Chinalco, half the sum realised in theory by BSGR — will ensure the permanence of the licence agreements.
More next week.

South African Oligarch Beats Oleg Deripaska To The Pot In Guinea

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MOSCOW—A group of South Africans, led by Tokyo Sexwale, has devised a scheme to take over mineral assets and mining concessions in the west African republic of Guinea, which the government plans to renationalize after revoking deals struck by previous Guinean governments. The Sexwale scheme is a growing threat to Oleg Deripaska’s Rusal in Guinea, as the offers Deripaska has proposed to Guinean President Alpha Conde and his family miss their mark.

On the eve of Rusal’s annual general meeting of shareholders in Hong Kong, due on June 15, there has been no fresh warning to Rusal shareholders that their Guinean bauxite mines and alumina refinery are facing confiscation, and transfer to a state mining company controlled, indirectly, by the South Africans. These Guinean assets account for more than half of Rusal’s global bauxite reserves. On last year’s production results, the Guinea bauxite mines represent 36% of Rusal’s annual bauxite production of 13.5 million tonnes; 7% of Rusal’s alumina output of 8.2 million tonnes. Both totals were down below past-year volumes.
In its latest challenge, the Guinean government charges Rusal with fraudulent under-reporting of output figures. A billion-dollar claim by the Guinean government dating back to 2009 accuses Rusal of under-counting the volume of its bauxite and alumina exports, and under-paying on taxes.
The only reference Rusal has made to the potential losses is this line in the annual financial report for 2011: “Operations in these countries involve risks that typically do not exist in other markets, including reconsideration of privatisation terms in certain countries where the Group operates following changes in governing political powers.” In its May 2012 financial report, Rusal also claims that the government’s position in the Guinean courts “has no merit and the risk of any cash outflow in connection with this claim is low and therefore no provision has been recorded in this regard in these consolidated financial statements.”
The collapse of Rusal’s position in Guinea this year is one of the targets for legal challenges against Deripaska’s management by shareholding partners, Victor Vekselberg, Len Blavatnik, and Mikhail Prokhorov.
Rusal’s share price is currently fixing in the Hong Kong market at an all-time low of between HK$4.20 and HK$4.60 (54 and 59 US cents). At US$9 billion, the company’s value in the market is $2 billion less than its bank debts. The Russian government’s official and unofficial stake in the company is now worth about $2.6 billion, two and a half times less than it was worth when the Kremlin agreed to bail Rusal out of insolvency and default in November 2008; then underwrite Deripaska’s initial public offering of shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in January of 2010.
Sexwale is one of South Africa’s wealthiest black leaders, with substantial holdings in the minerals and mining sector through his Mvelaphanda Group . He is also the Minister for Human Settlements (slums) in the current South African government, a critic of President Jacob Zuma, and a potent challenger at the next presidential election in 2014.
According to sources in Johannesberg, Sexwale is discussing with Eurasian National Resources Corporation (ENRC) a plan to buy into mining interests in Guinea. London-listed ENRC is one of Kazakhstan’s dominant mining companies, producing iron-ore, ferro-alloys, copper, coal, bauxite and alumina. Although ENRC is smaller than Rusal as a global bauxite and alumina producer, if Sexwale manages to oust Deripaska from Guinea, that would change dramatically. Currently, ENRC’s market capitalization is $8.1 billion.
Sexwale is believed to be the power behind two obscure British Virgin Island vehicles, one called Palladino Holdings and another called Floras Bell, which are managed by Olaf Walter Hennig. An investigation by David Gleason in Business Day of Johannesberg reports that a year ago Hennig arranged for a loan of US$25 million to finance the start-up of a new Guinean state mining company. The new mining code, drafted by Conde’s advisors, would grant that new state entity a free 15% stake in the country’s mining projects, and the option to buy another 20%.
Behind Hennig and the $25 million loan, according to Gleason and confirmed independently by sources in Conakry, the Guinean capital, are Sexwale; Mark Willcox, the chief executive of Mvelaphanda, and several other businessmen of South African, Polish, and British extraction. One of them reported by Gleason is Ian Hannam, a City of London financier who tried to arrange Rusal’s float on the London Stock Exchange in 2007, but failed.
Guinean sources say Sexwale, Willcox and Hennig are the control shareholders of the BVI entities. A report in the Sunday Times of London in May claimed that Hennig was a “shadowy middleman”, and that the Palladino loan had been signed in April 2011 by the Guinean finance minister and a local proxy for Palladino. The terms look as if they were copied out of the Russian loans-for-shares book. If the Guinean state entity defaults on repayment of the Palladino loan, Sexwale and his pals would be eligible to convert the debt into a 30% stake in the state mining company and its assets.
A senior Guinean official says this is one of several non-transparent deals arranged by President Conde which have convinced BHP Billiton to withdraw from concessions they currently hold in Guinean bauxite and iron-ore. Rusal’s concessions are a target, the source adds, because of the personal falling-out between Conde and Deripaska chronicled here.
Guinean officials who have tried to persuaded Conde to continue the reforms initiated by former Mining Minister Mahmoud Thiam had hoped the new code would establish a transparent foundation for renegotiation of many of the Guinean resource deals. Those have enriched the country’s rulers, deprived the country of taxes and investment, and left its resources in the ground. The reformers suspect Conde of appearing to endorse the public goals while secretly bargaining for private gains to be channelled through newly created entities backed by fresh alliances. Sexwale, said a Conakry source, “and the South African gang were [President Conde’s] business partners through the ANC [African National Congress, the ruling South African political party] from before he became president. There is that trust and an agreement to do business that predates everything.”
Other Guinean sources contend the Palladino loan is illegal, because it hasn’t been ratified by the Guinean parliament; because violations of US and UK anti-corruption laws are suspected, and because the government in Conakry has pledged that in return for debt relief from the Club of Paris government creditors, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it cannot pledge or transfer national resource assets bilaterally.
“The [share] pledge made in this [Palladino loan] agreement by the Government cannot be implemented. Under Guinea’s procurement and asset disposal law, any transaction with state-owned assets with a value exceeding 800 million Guinea francs ($120,000) has to be made through a public tender process. [The Palladino loan] also violates Article 150 of the new mining code which says the same things. Perhaps the [Palladino] consortium, aware of the provisions of the mining code, part of which they may even have drafted, secured their agreement five months ahead of the release of the mining code in the hope the new law would not be retroactive. Too bad! The public procurement law overrides the mining code.”
A high Guinean source describes the Palladino scheme an “an attempt to seize the assets of the Guinean Government by the back door, on the cheap and risk free. Essentially, whoever is behind Paladino has found it easy to penetrate the higher echelons of the new Guinean administration. The $25 million loan, far from being a loan, can actually be perceived as ‘entry ticket’ or ‘signature bonus’. All the consortium has to do is bide their time seat and wait.”
An advisor in Conakry says that for Rusal to wait for Conde’s relationship with Deripaska to improve plays into the South Africans’ hands now. “Deripaska and Conde had a marriage of convenience that worked in the beginning and each side thought it would extract maximum value for very little in return. Neither was able to deliver to the other’s expectations.”

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DAVID GLEASON: Why genuine miners avoid Guinea

by unknown, June 14 2012, 00:00

THE two stories in this column about Guinea's mining assets and Mvelaphanda Holdings' involvement have generated an unusual amount of international interest. I am told project developers in Guinea, elements of civil society and opposition parties are planning legal action in the US (under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) and the UK (under new foreign investment anticorruption legislation).
Last weekend, in response to stories about Palladino and its $25m loan to Guinea, businessman and Mvela associate Walter Hennig categorically denied the company had the right to a 30% stake in active private sector mining projects if repayment of the loan is defaulted.
It was a smart move. But the contract was actually between Palladino 2 and the Guinean government, not with Palladino. I understand Palladino 2 was created in 2010 for the specific purpose of entering into the agreement; Palladino was incorporated in 2003 and the use of Palladino 2 does seem strange.
Given that the holdup in the Rio Tinto iron ore project was resolved last year after Rio agreed to pay $700m once the settlement agreement and presidential decrees are promulgated, quite why it needs a $25m loan from Palladino 2 is curious. Hennig has insisted the consortium which is involved in Palladino and Florus Bell, the other BVI company, was asked by the Guinean government to assist in cleaning up the mess in the mining sector.
Maybe so, but I cannot be persuaded that the consortium's efforts will go unrewarded.
I identified some of those involved, in this column on Friday, and they are not individuals who take on tasks of this kind with no reward at the other end. I have to guess that mining developers will take all the initial risks (geological, technical, geopolitical). Once those risks are off the table and financing is about to start, Soguipami, the Guinean government's investment vehicle, may then exercise the provisions under the new mining code. These are for a 15% free ride for the government with an entitlement to buy up to another 20% in any mining project.
But where does all this put the consortium? A contact in Conakry says tales are circulating that some mining projects may be seized and handed on to other parties.
How will foreign mining companies respond? The Rio iron ore project is unlikely to be threatened. But BHP Billiton announced last week it might sell its 33,33% stake in Guinea Alumina and is working with investment bank Lazard to find a buyer. And Russian aluminium producer Rusal, which has operated in Guinea for years, described the new mining code as "senseless". It added: "Any investor of good sense will look for investment opportunities somewhere outside Guinea."
Guinea is described by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank as a highly indebted poor country. It is seeking debt relief from both commercial and official lenders, and a three-year extended credit facility and an allocation of interim poor-country assistance is under consideration by the IMF. Questions are being asked about the terms of the loan agreement, which includes interest at Libor plus 3%. If Guinea is so poor it has to beg debt relief, why is it borrowing money at such high interest payments?
The longer-term problem for Guinea is what effect this uncertainty and rumour might have on international investment. The country is awash with mineral resources, but many mining companies may be discouraged by political developments that leave them baffled.
WE FIRST asked Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) spokes-man Patrick Craven to make the past year's financial statements available a week ago. He sent us off to talk to someone else, who sent us back to Craven, who said he'd let us know.
He didn't, so we called again. Maybe they'll sort this out today. I'm not holding my breath. Presuming the response is no, the next question is: what does it have to hide?
In any event, surely a federation as big as Cosatu owes it to the public to show us what it does with its members' money? The Labour Relations Act should be amended to require trade unions and federations to publish their financial statements in full and make them easily available.
THE other problem," e-mailed Tony Robinson from Cape Town, "is that you have to make good use of the R&D work." He was commenting on my column on innovation and R&D yesterday.
Robinson pointed me to the lithium ion battery, the small device that made possible the cellphone revolution, laptops and, most recently, tablets. It will probably play a huge role in develop ing electric cars.
The lithium battery was partially developed by a Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) team led by Michael Thackeray, a graduate of the University of Cape Town. In 1983, Thackeray, John Goodenough of Oxford University and co-workers identified manganese spinel as a cathode material. This advanced work done earlier by Goodenough (1979), who first showed that lithium batteries were possible.
The battery development unit was closed down soon after the government changeover in 1994. The scientists who worked on the lithium ion battery have long since dispersed. They now populate leading scientific establishments around the world, mostly in the US. Thackeray is a distinguished fellow, senior scientist and group leader of the Argonne National Laboratory's battery development department in Illinois.
The CSIR also developed the Zebra battery, based on molten salt; it was invented in 1985 by Johann Coetzer based on work by German scientist Georg Otto Erb, who developed it for military applications such as the V1 and V2 rockets during the Second World War.
Ironically, the CSIR's 2010 annual report announced the establishment of a new battery research centre. It is, of course, easy to be wise after the event, but the closure of the battery unit in the mid-1990s can be seen now as an example of really abysmal decision-making and an almost total absence of foresight, particularly since this would have coincided with the early years of the cellphone revolution.
. E-mail: Twitter: @TheTorqueColumn


BackgroundGuinea has had a history of authoritarian rule since gaining its independence from France in 1958. Lansana CONTE came to power in 1984 when the military seized the government after the death of the first president, Sekou TOURE. Guinea did not hold democratic elections until 1993 when Gen. CONTE (head of the military government) was elected president of the civilian government. He was reelected in 1998 and again in 2003, though all the polls were marred by irregularities. History repeated itself in December 2008 when following President CONTE's death, Capt. Moussa Dadis CAMARA led a military coup, seizing power and suspending the constitution. His unwillingness to yield to domestic and international pressure to step down led to heightened political tensions that culminated in September 2009 when presidential guards opened fire on an opposition rally killing more than 150 people, and in early December 2009 when CAMARA was wounded in an assassination attempt and evacuated to Morocco and subsequently to Burkina Faso. A transitional government led by General Sekouba KONATE held democratic elections in 2010 and Alpha CONDE was elected president in the country's first free and fair elections since independence. CONDE in July 2011 survived an attack on his residence allegedly perpetrated by the military. In October 2012, he announced a cabinet reshuffle that removed three members of the military from their positions, making the current administration Guinea's first all-civilian government.Since independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has experienced considerable political and military upheaval. In 1980, a military coup established authoritarian dictator Joao Bernardo 'Nino' VIEIRA as president. Despite setting a path to a market economy and multiparty system, VIEIRA's regime was characterized by the suppression of political opposition and the purging of political rivals. Several coup attempts through the 1980s and early 1990s failed to unseat him. In 1994 VIEIRA was elected president in the country's first free elections. A military mutiny and resulting civil war in 1998 eventually led to VIEIRA's ouster in May 1999. In February 2000, a transitional government turned over power to opposition leader Kumba YALA after he was elected president in transparent polling. In September 2003, after only three years in office, YALA was ousted by the military in a bloodless coup, and businessman Henrique ROSA was sworn in as interim president. In 2005, former President VIEIRA was re-elected president pledging to pursue economic development and national reconciliation; he was assassinated in March 2009. Malam Bacai SANHA was elected in an emergency election held in June 2009, but he passed away abruptly died in January 2012 from an existing illness. A military coup on 12 April 2012 prevented Guinea-Bissau's second-round presidential election - to determine SANHA's successor - from taking place.


LocationWestern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea-Bissau and Sierra LeoneWestern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Senegal
Geographic coordinates11 00 N, 10 00 W12 00 N, 15 00 W
Map referencesAfricaAfrica
Areatotal: 245,857 sq km
land: 245,717 sq km
water: 140 sq km
total: 36,125 sq km
land: 28,120 sq km
water: 8,005 sq km
Area - comparativeslightly smaller than Oregonslightly less than three times the size of Connecticut
Land boundariestotal: 3,399 km
border countries: Cote d'Ivoire 610 km, Guinea-Bissau 386 km, Liberia 563 km, Mali 858 km, Senegal 330 km, Sierra Leone 652 km
total: 724 km
border countries: Guinea 386 km, Senegal 338 km
Coastline320 km350 km
Maritime claimsterritorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climategenerally hot and humid; monsoonal-type rainy season (June to November) with southwesterly winds; dry season (December to May) with northeasterly harmattan windstropical; generally hot and humid; monsoonal-type rainy season (June to November) with southwesterly winds; dry season (December to May) with northeasterly harmattan winds
Terraingenerally flat coastal plain, hilly to mountainous interiormostly low coastal plain rising to savanna in east
Elevation extremeslowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Nimba 1,752 m
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed elevation in the eastern part of the country 300 m
Natural resourcesbauxite, iron ore, diamonds, gold, uranium, hydropower, fish, saltfish, timber, phosphates, bauxite, clay, granite, limestone, unexploited deposits of petroleum
Land usearable land: 4.47%
permanent crops: 2.64%
other: 92.89% (2005)
arable land: 8.31%
permanent crops: 6.92%
other: 84.77% (2005)
Irrigated land950 sq km (2003)250 sq km (2003)
Natural hazardshot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry seasonhot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season; brush fires
Environment - current issuesdeforestation; inadequate supplies of potable water; desertification; soil contamination and erosion; overfishing, overpopulation in forest region; poor mining practices have led to environmental damagedeforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; overfishing
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - notethe Niger and its important tributary the Milo have their sources in the Guinean highlandsthis small country is swampy along its western coast and low-lying inland
Total renewable water resources226 cu km (1987)31 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 1.51 cu km/yr (8%/2%/90%)
per capita: 161 cu m/yr (2000)
total: 0.18 cu km/yr (13%/5%/82%)
per capita: 113 cu m/yr (2000)



Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Guinea
conventional short form: Guinea
local long form: Republique de Guinee
local short form: Guinee
former: French Guinea
conventional long form: Republic of Guinea-Bissau
conventional short form: Guinea-Bissau
local long form: Republica da Guine-Bissau
local short form: Guine-Bissau
former: Portuguese Guinea
Government typerepublicrepublic
Capitalname: Conakry
geographic coordinates: 9 30 N, 13 42 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
name: Bissau
geographic coordinates: 11 51 N, 15 35 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions33 prefectures and 1 special zone (zone special)*; Beyla, Boffa, Boke, Conakry*, Coyah, Dabola, Dalaba, Dinguiraye, Dubreka, Faranah, Forecariah, Fria, Gaoual, Gueckedou, Kankan, Kerouane, Kindia, Kissidougou, Koubia, Koundara, Kouroussa, Labe, Lelouma, Lola, Macenta, Mali, Mamou, Mandiana, Nzerekore, Pita, Siguiri, Telimele, Tougue, Yomou9 regions (regioes, singular - regiao); Bafata, Biombo, Bissau, Bolama, Cacheu, Gabu, Oio, Quinara, Tombali; note - Bolama may have been renamed Bolama/Bijagos
Independence2 October 1958 (from France)24 September 1973 (declared); 10 September 1974 (from Portugal)
National holidayIndependence Day, 2 October (1958)Independence Day, 24 September (1973)
Constitution7 May 2010 (Loi Fundamentale)16 May 1984; amended several times
Legal systemcivil law system based on the French modelmixed legal system of civil law (influenced by the early French Civil Code) and customary law
Suffrage18 years of age; universal18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Alpha CONDE (since 21 December 2010)
head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed Said FOFANA (since 24 December 2010)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast to be elected president; election last held on 27 June 2010 with a runoff election held on 7 November 2010
election results: Alpha CONDE elected president in a runoff election; percent of vote Alpha CONDE 52.5%, Cellou Dalein DIALLO 47.5%
chief of state: [Transitional] President Manuel Serifo NHAMADJO (since 11 May 2012)
note: in the aftermath of the April 2012 coup that deposed the government, an agreement was reached between ECOWAS mediators and the military junta to name NHAMADJO as transitional president with a one year term
head of government: [Transitional] Prime Minister Rui Duarte BARROS (since 16 May 2012)
cabinet: NA
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held on 18 March 2012 with a runoff between the two leading candidates scheduled for 22 April 2012; prime minister appointed by the president after consultation with party leaders in the legislature
election results: with no candidate receiving a minimum 50% of the vote in the first round, a runoff between the two leading candidates was scheduled for 22 April 2012; percent of vote (first round) - Carlos GOMES Junior 49.0%, Kumba YALA 23.4%, others 27.6%
Legislative branchthe legislature was dissolved by junta leader Moussa Dadis CAMARA in December 2008 and in February 2010, the Transition Government appointed a 155 member National Transition Council (CNT) that has since acted in the legislature's place
elections: last held on 30 June 2002 (next election scheduled for 12 May 2013)
unicameral National People's Assembly or Assembleia Nacional Popular (100 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 16 November 2008 (no legislative elections currently scheduled)
election results: percent of vote by party - PAIGC 49.8%, PRS 25.3%, PRID 7.5%, PND 2.4%, AD 1.4%, other parties 13.6%; seats by party - PAIGC 67, PRS 28, PRID 3, PND 1, AD 1
Judicial branchConstitutional Court; Court of First Instance or Tribunal de Premiere Instance; Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel; Supreme Court or Cour SupremeSupreme Court or Supremo Tribunal da Justica (consists of nine justices appointed by the president and serve at his pleasure; final court of appeals in criminal and civil cases); Regional Courts (one in each of nine regions; first court of appeals for Sectoral Court decisions; hear all felony cases and civil cases valued at more than $1,000); 24 Sectoral Courts (judges are not necessarily trained lawyers; they hear civil cases valued at less than $1,000 and misdemeanor criminal cases)
Political parties and leadersNational Party for Hope and Development or PEDN [Lansana KOUYATE]; Rally for the Guinean People or RPG [Alpha CONDE]; Union for the Progress of Guinea or UPG [Jean Marie DORE]; Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea or UFDG [Cellou Dalein DIALLO]; Union of Republican Forces or UFR [Sidya TOURE]
note: listed are the five most popular parties as of December 2012; overall, there are more than 130 registered parties
African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde or PAIGC [Rui Dia de SOUSA]; Democratic Alliance or AD [Victor MANDINGA]; New Democracy Party or PND; Party for Social Renewal or PRS [Sory DJALO]; Republican Party for Independence and Development or PRID [Aristides GOMES]
Political pressure groups and leadersNational Confederation of Guinean Workers-Labor Union of Guinean Workers or CNTG-USTG Alliance (includes National Confederation of Guinean Workers or CNTG and Labor Union of Guinean Workers or USTG); Syndicate of Guinean Teachers and Researchers or SLECGNA
Diplomatic representation in the USchief of mission: Ambassador Blaise CHERIF
chancery: 2112 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 986-4300
FAX: [1] (202) 483-8688
chief of mission: none; note - Guinea-Bissau does not have official representation in Washington, DC
Diplomatic representation from the USchief of mission: Ambassador Patricia Newton MOLLER
embassy: Koloma, Conakry, east of Hamdallaye Circle
mailing address: B. P. 603, Transversale No. 2, Centre Administratif de Koloma, Commune de Ratoma, Conakry
telephone: [224] 65-10-40-00
FAX: [224] 65-10-42-97
the US Embassy suspended operations on 14 June 1998 in the midst of violent conflict between forces loyal to then President VIEIRA and military-led junta; the US Ambassador to Senegal is accredited to Guinea-Bissau
Flag descriptionthree equal vertical bands of red (hoist side), yellow, and green; red represents the people's sacrifice for liberation and work; yellow stands for the sun, for the riches of the earth, and for justice; green symbolizes the country's vegetation and unity
note: uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia; the colors from left to right are the reverse of those on the flags of neighboring Mali and Senegal
two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and green with a vertical red band on the hoist side; there is a black five-pointed star centered in the red band; yellow symbolizes the sun; green denotes hope; red represents blood shed during the struggle for independence; the black star stands for African unity
note: uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia; the flag design was heavily influenced by the Ghanaian flag
National anthemname: "Liberte" (Liberty)
lyrics/music: unknown/Fodeba KEITA
note: adopted 1958
name: "Esta e a Nossa Patria Bem Amada" (This Is Our Beloved Country)
lyrics/music: Amilcar Lopes CABRAL/XIAO He
note: adopted 1974; a delegation from Portuguese Guinea visited China in 1963 and heard music by XIAO He; Amilcar Lopes CABRA, the leader of Guinea-Bissau's independence movement, asked the composer to create a piece that would inspire his people to struggle for independence
International law organization participationaccepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdictionaccepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; non-party state to the ICCt


Economy - overviewGuinea is a poor country that possesses major mineral, hydropower, and agricultural resources. The country has almost half of the world's bauxite reserves and significant iron ore, gold, and diamond reserves. However, Guinea has been unable to profit from this potential, as rampant corruption, dilapidated infrastructure, and political uncertainty have drained investor confidence. In the time since a 2008 coup following the death of long-term President Lansana CONTE, international donors, including the G-8, the IMF, and the World Bank, have significantly curtailed their development programs. Throughout 2009, policies of the ruling military junta severely weakened the economy. The junta leaders spent and printed money at an accelerating rate, driving inflation and debt to perilously high levels. In early 2010, the junta collapsed and was replaced by a Transition Government, which ceded power in December 2010 to the country's first-ever democratically elected president, Alpha CONDE. International assistance and investment are expected to return to Guinea, but the levels will depend upon the ability of the new government to combat corruption, reform its banking system, improve its business environment, and build infrastructure. IMF and World Bank programs will be especially critical as Guinea attempts to gain debt relief. International investors have expressed keen interest in Guinea's vast iron ore reserves, which could further propel the country's growth. The government put forward a new mining code in September 2011 that includes provisions to combat corruption, protect the environment, and review all existing mining contracts. Longer range plans to deploy broadband Internet throughout the country could spur economic growth as well.One of the poorest countries in the world, Guinea-Bissau's legal economy depends mainly on farming and fishing, but trafficking in narcotics is probably the most lucrative trade. The combination of limited economic prospects, a weak and faction-ridden government, and favorable geography have made this West African country a way station for drugs bound for Europe. Cashew crops have increased remarkably in recent years; low rainfall hindered cereals and other crops in 2011. Guinea-Bissau exports fish and seafood along with small amounts of peanuts, palm kernels, and timber. Rice is the major crop and staple food. However, intermittent fighting between Senegalese-backed government troops and a military junta destroyed much of the country's infrastructure and caused widespread damage to the economy in 1998; the civil war led to a 28% drop in GDP that year, with partial recovery in 1999-2002. In December 2003, the World Bank, IMF, and UNDP were forced to step in to provide emergency budgetary support in the amount of $107 million for 2004, representing over 80% of the total national budget. The government is successfully implementing a three-year $33 million extended credit arrangement with the IMF that runs through 2012. In December 2010 the World Bank and IMF announced support for $1.2 billion worth of debt relief. Guinea-Bissau made progress with debt relief in 2011 when members of the Paris Club opted to write-off much of the country's obligations.

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