Despite persistent corruption and fiscal mismanagement, the long-term economic prognosis for Guinea, buoyed by sizeable endowments of natural resources, energy opportunities, and arable land, remains promising. Constrained by an austere budget, Guinea has increasingly looked to foreign investment and the private sector to prop up its economy. China, Guinea’s largest trading partner, has dramatically increased its role in the past few years with a variety of infrastructure investments. Investors should proceed with caution, realizing that the potential for high profits comes with significant risk.
Endowed with abundant mineral resources, Guinea has the potential to be an economic leader in the extractives industry. Guinea is home to a third of the world’s reserves of bauxite (aluminum ore), and bauxite accounts for over half of Guinea’s present exports. Most of the country’s bauxite is exported by the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG) [a joint venture between the Government of Guinea, U.S.-based Alcoa, the Anglo-Australian firm Rio Tinto, and Dadco Investments of the Channel Islands], via a designated port in Kamsar. Societe Miniere de Boke (SMB), a Franco-Sino-Singaporean conglomerate, has recently surpassed CBG as the largest single producer of bauxite in the world. New investment by SMB and CBG, in addition to new market entries, are expected to significantly increase Guinea’s bauxite output over the next five to ten years. Guinea also possesses over four billion tons of untapped high-grade iron ore, significant gold and diamond reserves, undetermined amounts of uranium, as well as prospective offshore oil reserves. Artisanal and medium-sized industrial gold mining in the Siguiri region is a significant contributor to the Guinean economy, but some suspect much of the gold leaves the country clandestinely, without generating any government revenue. In the long term, the Government of Guinea projects that its greatest potential economic driver will be the Simandou iron ore project, which is slated to be the largest greenfield project ever developed in Africa. In 2017, the governments of Guinea and China signed a USD 20 billion framework agreement giving Guinea potentially USD 1 billion per year in infrastructure projects in exchange for increased access to mineral wealth.
Guinea’s abundant rainfall and natural geography bode well for hydroelectric and renewable energy production. The largest energy sector investment in Guinea is the 450MW Souapiti dam project (valued at USD 2.1 billion), began in late 2015 with Chinese investment, which likewise completed the 240MW Kaleta Dam (valued at USD 526 million) in May 2015. Kaleta more than doubled Guinea’s electricity supply, and for the first-time furnished Conakry with more reliable, albeit seasonal, electricity (May-November). Souapiti is expected to begin to producing electricity in late 2020. A third hydroelectric dam on the same river, dubbed Amaria, began construction in January 2019 and is expected to be operational in 2024 – Chinese mining firm TBEA is providing financing for the Amaria power plant (300 MW, USD 1.2 billion investment). If corresponding distribution infrastructure is built, these projects could make Guinea an energy exporter in West Africa. In addition, U.S.-based Endeavor planned to finish work on Project Te, a 50MW thermal plant on the outskirts of the capital by the end of May 2020 but project completion is delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is also looking to invest in solar and other energy sources to compensate for hydroelectric deficits during Guinea’s dry season. Toward that end, the government has entered into several Memoranda of Understanding with the private sector to develop solar projects. Agriculture and fisheries hold other areas of opportunity and growth in Guinea. Already an exporter of fruits, vegetables, and palm oil to its immediate neighbors, Guinea is climatically well suited for large-scale agricultural production. However, the sector has suffered from decades of neglect and mismanagement, and lack of transportation infrastructure. Guinea is also an importer of rice, its primary staple crop. President Alpha Conde has expressed his personal desire to see Guinea’s long-term economy based on agriculture and renewables rather than extractives.
Guinea’s macroeconomic and financial situation is weak. The Ebola crisis left the government with few financial resources to invest in social services and infrastructure. Lower natural resource revenues stemming from a drop in world commodities prices and ill-advised government loans have strained an already tight budget. However, improved macroeconomic discipline in 2016-2017 stabilized exchange rates, refilled government coffers, and increased government revenues. Much of this stabilization lasted until late 2017. In 2018 the government borrowed excessively from the Central Bank (BCRG), which threatened the first review of Guinea’s current International Monetary Fund (IMF) program. Lower than forecast natural resource revenues in late 2019 due to heavy rains and political violence again threatened the fourth review, which Guinea finally passed in April 2020. There is a shortage of credit, particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises, and the government is increasingly looking to international investment to increase growth, provide jobs, and kick-start the economy.
Guinea has passed and implemented an anti-corruption law, updated its Investment Code, and renewed efforts to attract international investors, including a new investment promotion website put in place in 2016 by Guinea’s investment promotion agency to increase transparency and streamline processes for new investors. However, Guinea’s capacity to enforce its more investor-friendly laws is compromised by a weak and unreliable legal system. President Alpha Conde inaugurated the first Trade Court of Guinea on March 20, 2018.
|TI Corruption Perceptions Index||2019||130 of 183||http://www.transparency.org/
|World Bank’s Doing Business Report||2019||156 of 190||http://www.doingbusiness.org/
|Global Innovation Index||2019||125 of 129||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions)||2018||USD 74||https://apps.bea.gov/international/
|World Bank GNI per capita||2019||USD 850||https://data.worldbank.org/
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
With the end of the Ebola crisis and President Conde’s re-election and inauguration at the end of 2015, the Guinean government adopted a strong, positive attitude toward foreign direct investment (FDI). Facing budget shortfalls and low commodity prices, the Guinean government hopes FDI will diversify its economy, spur GDP growth, and provide reliable employment. To that end, the government has reduced land transfer fees, and improved procedures for import and construction permits. Guinea does not discriminate against foreign investors, with the exception of a prohibition on foreign ownership of media. One area of concern is that mining companies have negotiated different taxation rates despite mining code requirements. According to the 2019 World Investment Report, FDI in Guinea fell from USD 577 million in 2017 to USD 483 million in 2018. In late 2015, the U.S. Embassy facilitated the establishment of an informal international investors group to liaise with the government. There is the Chambre des Mines (Chamber of Mines), a government-sanctioned advisory organization that includes Guinea’s major mining firms. Guinea’s Agency for the Promotion of Private Investment (APIP) provides support in the following areas:
- Create and register businesses
- Facilitate access to incentives offered under the investment code
- Provide information and resources to potential investors
- Publish targeted sector studies and statistics
- Provide training and technical assistance
- Facilitate solutions for investors in Guinea’s interior
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
Investors can register under one of four categories of business in Guinea. More information on the four types of business registration is available at . There are no general limits on foreign ownership or control, and 100 percent ownership by foreign firms is legal in most sectors. Foreign-ownership of print media, radio, and television stations is not permitted. The 2013 Mining Code gives the government the right to a 15 percent interest in any major mining operation in Guinea (the government decides when an operation has become large enough to qualify). Mining and media notwithstanding, there are no sector-specific restrictions that discriminate against market access for foreign investment. Despite this lack of official discrimination, many enterprises have discovered the licensing process to be laden with bureaucratic delays that are usually dealt with by paying consultant fees to help expedite matters. The U.S. Embassy may advocate on behalf of American companies when it is aware of excessive delays.
According to the Investment Code, the National Investment Commission has a role in reviewing requests for approval of foreign investment and for monitoring companies’ efforts to comply with investment obligations. The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development hosts the secretariat for this commission, which grants investment approvals. The government gives approved companies, especially industrial firms, the use of the land necessary for their plant, with the duration and conditions of use set out in the terms of the approval. The land and associated buildings belong to the State, but can also be rented by or transferred to another firm with government approval.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
There has been no investment policy review conducted by the UN Conference on Trade and Development or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development within the past several years. The World Trade Organization (WTO) last conducted a review of Guinea in 2018. The 2018 report can be viewed here: .
APIP is the Guinean agency which promotes investment, helps register businesses in Guinea, assists with the expansion of local companies, and works to improve the business climate. APIP maintains a guide on Guinea’s investment website ( ). Business registration, can be completed in person at APIP’s office in Conakry or through an online platform: . The only internationally-accredited business facilitation organization that assesses Guinea is GER.co, which gives Guinea’s business creation/investment website a 4/10 rating. It takes roughly seventy-two hours to register a business. APIP’s services are available to both Guinean and foreign investors. The “One Stop Shop” at APIP’s Conakry office can provide small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with requisite registration numbers, including tax administration numbers and social security numbers. Notaries are required for the creation of any other type of enterprise.
An SME in Guinea is defined as a business with less than 50 employees and revenue less than 500 million Guinean francs (GNF) (around USD 50,000). SMEs are taxed at a yearly fixed rate of GNF 15 million (USD 1,500). Administrative modalities are simplified and funneled through the One Stop Shop. These advantages are available for both Guinean and foreign investors. In December 2019, the Prime Minister inaugurated the “Maison des PME” a public-private partnership between the Societe Generale bank and APIP to help local SMEs expand and develop.
Guinea does not formally promote outward investment and the government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.
3. Legal Regime
Transparency of the Regulatory System
In the past eight years, Guinea has made its laws and regulations more transparent, but draft bills are not always made available for public comment. Ministries do not develop forward-looking regulatory plans and publish neither summaries nor proposed legislation. Laws in Guinea are proposed by either the President or members of the National Assembly and are not always presented for public comment. Once ratified, laws are not enforceable until they are published in the government’s official gazette. All laws relevant to international investors are posted (in French) on invest.gov.gn. When investing, it is important to engage with all levels of government to ensure each authority is aware of expectations and responsibilities on both sides. Guinea has had an independent Supreme Audit Institution since 2016. The institution is charged with making available information on public finances. The institution presented its first activities report in January 2018.
Since 2010, the Guinean government has initiated more than 80 reforms to update and make more transparent government codes related to mines, administration, investment, and customs.
Guinea’s 2013 amended Mining Code commits the country to increasing transparency in the mining sector. In the code, the government commits to awarding mining contracts by competitive tender and to publish all past, current, and future mining contracts for public scrutiny. Members of mining sector governing bodies and employees of the Ministry of Mines are prohibited from owning shares in mining companies active in Guinea or their subcontractors. Each mining company must sign a code of good conduct and develop and implement a corruption-monitoring plan. There is a public database of mining contracts designed by the Natural Resource Governance Institute ( ).
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) ensures greater transparency in the governance of Guinea’s natural resources and full disclosure of government revenues from its extractives sector. The EITI standard aims to provide a global set of conditions that ensures greater transparency of the management of a country’s oil, gas, and mineral resources. EITI reiterates the need to augment support for countries and governments that are making genuine efforts to address corruption but lack the capacity and systems necessary to manage effectively the businesses, revenues, and royalties derived from extractive industries.
Guinea was accepted as EITI compliant for the first time by the international EITI Board at its meeting in Mexico City on July 2, 2014. As an EITI country, Guinea must disclose the government’s revenues from natural resources. Guinea completed its most recent report in August 2018 for the 2016 reporting period. The report is located at : .
While Guinea’s laws promote free enterprise and competition, there is often a lack of transparency in the government’s application of the law. Business owners openly assert that application procedures are sufficiently opaque to allow for corruption, and regulatory activity is often instigated due to personal interests.
International Regulatory Considerations
Guinea is a member of ECOWAS, but not a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and as such has its own currency. At the beginning of 2017, Guinea adopted ECOWAS’s Common Exterior Tariff (TEC), which harmonizes Guinea’s import taxes with other West African states and eliminates the need for assessing import duties at Guinea’s land border crossings, however, sometimes it is difficult to get the required certificates to export under these ECOWAS exemptions. Guinea is a member of the WTO and is not party to any trade disputes.
Legal System and Judicial Independence
Guinea’s legal system is codified and largely based upon French civil law. However, the judicial system is reported to be generally understaffed, corrupt, and opaque. Accounting practices and bookkeeping in Guinean courts are frequently unreliable. U.S. businesspersons should exercise extreme caution when negotiating contract arrangements, and do so with proper local legal representation. Although the constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, in practice the judicial system lacks independence, is underfunded, inefficient, and is portrayed in the press as corrupt. Budget shortfalls, a shortage of qualified lawyers and magistrates, nepotism, and ethnic bias contribute to the judiciary’s challenges. President Conde’s administration has successfully implemented some judicial reforms and has increased the salaries of judges by 400 percent in order to discourage corruption. There are few international investment lawyers accredited in Guinea and it is a best practice to include international arbitration clauses in all major contracts. U.S. companies have identified the absence of a dependable legal system as a major barrier to investment.
Despite dispute settlement procedures set forth in Guinean law, business executives complain of the glacial pace of the adjudication of business disputes. Most legal cases take years and significant legal fees to resolve. In speaking with local business leaders, the general sentiment is that any resolution occurring within three to five years might be considered quick.
In many cases, the government does not meet payment obligations to private suppliers of goods and services, either foreign or Guinean, in a timely fashion. Arrears to the private sector is a major issue that is often ignored. Guinea is currently looking for ways to finance past arrears to the private sector — possibly through issuing a public debt instrument. There is no independent enforcement mechanism for collecting debts from the government, although some contracts have international arbitration clauses. The government, while bound by law to honor judgments made by the arbitration court, often actively influences the decision itself.
Although the situation has improved recently, Guinean and foreign business executives have publicly expressed concern over the rule of law in the country. In 2014, high-ranking members of the military harassed foreign managers of a telecommunications company because they did not renew a contract. In 2017-2018, American businesses experienced long delays in getting the required signatures and approvals through government ministries. Some businesses have been subject to sporadic harassment and demands for donations from military and police personnel.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
The National Assembly ratified an Investment Code regulating FDI in May 2015. Developed in cooperation with the Work Bank and IMF, the code harmonizes Guinea’s FDI regulations with other countries in the region and broadens the definition of FDI. The code also allows for direct agreements between investors and the State. Other important legislation related to FDI includes the Procurement Code, the BOT (Build Operate Transfer, now Public Private Partnership or PPP) Law and the Customs Code.
The government of Guinea states it will let the legal system deal with domestic cases involving foreign investors. However, the legal system is weak, in the process of implementing much needed reforms, and is subject to interference. Although the constitution provides for an independent judiciary, in practice the judicial system lacks independence and is underfunded, inefficient, and is perceived by many to be corrupt. APIP launched a website in 2016 that lists information related to laws, rules, procedures, and registration requirements for foreign investors, as well as strategy documents for specific sectors. ( ). Further information on APIP’s services is available at http:// . APIP has a largely bilingual (English and French) staff and is designed to be a clearinghouse of information for investors.
Competition and Anti-Trust Laws
There are no agencies that review transactions for competition-related concerns.
Expropriation and Compensation
Guinea’s Investment Code states that the Guinean government will not take any steps to expropriate or nationalize investments made by individuals and companies, except for reasons of public interest. It also promises fair compensation for expropriated property.
In 2011, the government claimed full ownership of several languishing industrial facilities in which it had previously held partial shares as part of several joint ventures—including a canned food factory and processing plants for peanuts, tea, mangoes, and tobacco—with no compensation to the private sector partner. Each of these facilities was privatized under opaque circumstances in the late 1980s and early 1990s. By expropriating these businesses, which the government deemed to be corrupt and/or ineffective, and putting them to public auction, Guinea hoped to correct past mistakes and put the assets in more productive hands. During the 1990s, a U.S. investor acquired a 67 percent stake in an explosives and munitions factory from a Canadian entity. The Guinean government owned the remaining 33 percent. From 2000 to 2008, the government halted manufacturing at the factory. In 2010, the Guinean government nationalized the factory.
While there have not been recent large-scale expropriation cases, some mining concession contracts have had their initial award revoked and were sold to another bidder. In 2008, the previous regime of Lansana Conde stripped Rio Tinto of 50 percent of its concession of the Simandou mine and sold it to another company.
The government has had difficulties managing SMEs and would prefer that the private sector take the lead in managing this sector. The investment climate is welcoming to foreign and American firms, and the government is working to reduce corruption and increase transparency. The current government is cognizant of its international image and does not want to risk losing possible foreign investment.
ICSID Convention and New York Convention
Guinea is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), an autonomous institution established under the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of other States ( ). Guinea is also a member of the New York Convention, which applies to the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards and the referral by a court to arbitration. Guinea has no specific domestic legislation providing for enforcement of awards under the 1958 New York Convention and/or under the ICSID Convention. ( ).
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
The Investment Code states that the competent Guinean judicial authorities shall settle disputes arising from interpretation of the Code in accordance with the law and regulations, and provides several avenues by which to seek arbitration. In practice, however, fair settlements may be difficult to obtain. The current Guinean constitution mandates an independent judiciary, although many business owners and high-level government officials frequently claim that poorly trained magistrates, high levels of corruption, and nepotism plague the administration of justice. Guinea established an arbitration court in 1999, independent of the Ministry of Justice, to settle business disputes in a less costly and more expedient manner. The Arbitration Court is based upon the French system, in which arbitrators are selected from among the Guinean business sector, rather than from among lawyers or judges, and are supervised by the Chamber of Commerce. All parties must agree in order for their case to be settled in the arbitration court. In general, Guinea’s arbitration court has a better reputation than the judicial court system for settling business disputes.
International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
Guinea is a member of the Organisation pour l’Harmonisation du Droit des Affaires en Afrique (Organization for the Harmonization of Commercial Law in Africa), known by its French initials, OHADA, which allows investors to appeal legal decisions on commercial and financial matters to a regional body based in Abidjan. The organization also seeks to harmonize commercial law, debt collection, bankruptcy, and secured transactions throughout the OHADA region. The treaty superseded the Code of Economic Activities and other national commercial laws when it was ratified in 2000, though many of the substantive changes to Guinean law have yet to be implemented. U.S. companies seeking to do business in Guinea should be aware that under OHADA, managers may be held personally liable for corporate wrongdoing. See the OHADA website for specific OHADA rules and regulations ( ).
Guinea, as a member of OHADA, has the same bankruptcy laws as most West African francophone countries. OHADA’s Uniform Act on the Organization of Securities enforces collective proceedings for writing off debts and defines bankruptcy in articles 227 to 233. The Uniform Act also distinguishes fraudulent from non-fraudulent bankruptcies. There is no distinction between foreign and domestic investors. The only distinction made is a privilege ranking that defines which claims must be paid first from the bankrupt company’s assets. Articles 180 to 190 of OHADA’s Uniform Act define which creditors are entitled to priority compensation. Bankruptcy is only criminalized when it occurs due to fraudulent actions, and leaves criminal penalties to national authorities. Non-fraudulent bankruptcy is adjudicated though the Uniform Act.
In the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business Report on Resolving Insolvency, Guinea placed 118 out of 190 countries ranked. According to the report, resolving insolvency takes an average of 3.8 years and costs 10.0 percent of the debtor’s estate, with the most likely outcome being that the company will be sold piecemeal. The average recovery rate is 19.4 cents on the dollar.
4. Industrial Policies
The Investment Code provides preferential tax treatment for investments meeting certain criteria (See Screening of FDI). Some mining companies currently benefit from preferential tax treatment. Other exemptions can be agreed to during contract negotiations with the government. The government’s priority investments categories are: promotion of small- and medium-sized Guinean businesses, development of non-traditional exports, processing of local natural resources and local raw materials, and establishment of activities in economically less developed regions. Priority activities include agricultural promotion, especially of food, and rural development; commercial farming involving processing and packaging; livestock, especially when coupled with veterinary services; fisheries; fertilizer production, chemical or mechanical preparation and processing industries for vegetable, animal, or mineral products; health and education-related businesses; tourism facilities and hotel operations; socially beneficial real estate development; and investment banks or any credit institutions settled outside specified population centers. Detailed information on each of these opportunities is available at
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
Guinea currently has no foreign trade zones or free ports. In 2017, a presidential decree created a special economic zone in the Boke corridor of western Guinea.
Performance and Data Localization Requirements
Under the 2011 Mining Code, mining companies are required to have Guinean citizens as a certain percentage of their staff , to eventually transition to a Guinean country director, and to award a certain percentage of contracts to Guinean-owned firms. The percentage varies based on employment category and the chronological phase of the project. The Mining Code requires that 20 percent of senior managers be Guinean; however, the Code does not define what constitutes senior management. The Code also aims to liberalize mining development and promote investment. In 2013, the Code called for the creation of a Mining Promotion and Development Center, a One Stop Shop for mining administrative processes for investors. The Development Center opened in May 2016. Guinea has no forced localization policy related to the use of domestic content in goods or technology, and there are no requirements for foreign IT providers to turn over source code or provide access to surveillance or to store data within Guinea.
5. Protection of Property Rights
The Land Tenure Code of 1996 provides a legal base for documentation of property ownership. Mortgages are non-existent in Guinea. As with ownership of business enterprises, both foreign and Guinean individuals have the right to own property. However, enforcement of these rights depends upon an inefficient Guinean legal and administrative system. It is not uncommon for the same piece of land to have several overlapping deeds. Furthermore, land sales and business contracts generally lack transparency. Only about 2.5 percent of the population has title to real property. The Ministry of Urban Affairs is developing an online platform that will facilitate the registration of land titles and reduce waiting times to about five days. According to the 2020 World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Guinea ranks 122 out of 190 countries for the ease of registering property. ( ).
Intellectual Property Rights
Guinea is a member of the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). OAPI is a signatory to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and several other intellectual property treaties. Guinea modified its intellectual property rights (IPR) laws in 2000 to bring them into line with established international standards. There have been no formal complaints filed on behalf of American companies concerning IPR infringement in Guinea. However, it is not certain that an affirmative IPR judgment would be enforceable, given the general lack of law enforcement capability. The Property Rights office in Guinea is severely understaffed and underfunded. Guinea is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List. For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at .
6. Financial Sector
Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
Commercial credit for private and public enterprises is difficult and expensive to obtain in Guinea. The FY 2020 Millennium Challenge Corporation score for Access to Credit in Guinea dropped from a 23 percent score in 2019, to 21 percent, and was at 50 percent in FY 2017.
The legislature passed a Build, Operate, and Transfer (BOT) convention law in 1998 (changed to the Public-Private Partnership, or PPP, in 2018), which provides rules and guidelines for PPP and related infrastructure development projects. The law lays out the obligations and responsibilities of the government and investors and stipulates the guarantees provided by the government for such projects. The Investment Code allows income derived from investment in Guinea, the proceeds of liquidating that investment, and the compensation paid in the event of nationalization, to be transferred to any country in convertible currency. The legal and regulatory procedures, based on French civil law, are not always applied uniformly or transparently.
Individuals or legal entities making foreign investments in Guinea are guaranteed the freedom to transfer the original foreign capital, profits resulting from investment, capital gains on disposal of investment, and fair compensation paid in the case of nationalization or expropriation of the investment to any country of their choice. The Guinean franc is subject to a managed floating exchange rate. The few commercial banks in Guinea are dependent on the BCRG for foreign exchange liquidity, making large transfers of foreign currency difficult.
Laws governing takeovers, mergers, acquisitions, and cross-shareholding are limited to rules for documenting financial transactions and filing any change of status documents with the economic register. There are no laws or regulations that specifically authorize private firms to adopt articles of incorporation that limit or prohibit investment.
Money and Banking System
Guinea’s financial system is small and dominated by the banking sector. It comprises 16 active banks, 13 insurance companies and 26 microfinance institutions. Guinea’s banking sector is overseen by the BCRG, which also serves as the agent of the government treasury for overseeing banking and credit operations in Guinea and abroad. The BCRG manages foreign exchange reserves on behalf of the State. The Office of Technical Assistance of the Department of the Treasury assesses that Guinea does not properly manage debt and that its treasury is too involved in the process, although improvements made in 2017-2018 point to a better future. Further information on the BCRG can be found in French at .
Due to the difficulty of accessing funding from commercial banks, small commercial and agricultural enterprises have increasingly turned to microfinance, which has been growing rapidly with a net increase in deposits and loans. The quality of products in the microfinance sector remains mediocre, with bad debt accounting for five percent of loans with approximately 17 percent of gross loans outstanding.
Guinea plans to broaden the country’s SME base through investment climate reform, improved access to finance, and the establishment of SME growth corridors. Severely limited access to finance (especially for SMEs), inadequate infrastructure, deficiencies in logistics and trade facilitation, corruption and the diminished capacity of the government, inflation, and poor education of the workforce has seriously undermined investor confidence in Guinean institutions. Guinea’s weak enabling environment for business, its history of poor governance, erratic policy, and inconsistent regulatory enforcement exacerbate the country’s poor reputation as an investment destination. As a result, private participation in the economy remains low and firms’ productivity measured by value added is one of the lowest in Africa. Firms’ links with the financial sector are weak: only 3.9 percent of firms surveyed in the 2016 World Bank Enterprise survey had a bank loan.
Credit to the private sector is low, at around 8.9 percent of GDP in 2018, a decrease from 14 percent in 2015. Commercial banks are reluctant to extend loans due to the lack of credit history reporting for potential borrowers. The Guinean government, through the central bank, is in the process of establishing a credit information bureau to overcome this asymmetry of credit information.
Guinea is a cash-based society driven by trade, agriculture, and the informal sector, which all function outside the banking sector. The banking sector is highly concentrated in Conakry, and technologically behind. Banks in Guinea tend to favor short-term lending at high interest rates. In collaboration with the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance, the central bank is implementing a bank deposit insurance scheme. The deposit coverage limit has not been set yet, but the central bank began to collect premiums from commercial banks in 2019.
While the microfinance sector grew strongly from a small base, microfinance institutions were hit hard during the Ebola crisis; they are not profitable and need capacity and technology upgrades. Furthermore, many of these microfinance institutions struggle to meet the higher minimum capital requirements imposed by the central bank since 2019. This heightened financial hurdle will likely lead to a consolidation of the microfinance sector. Finally, the efficiency and the use of payment services by all potential users needs to be improved, with an emphasis on greater financial inclusion.
The penetration of digital cellphone fund transfers is increasing. Two foreign e-money (or mobile banking) institutions lead the effort to digitize payments and improve access to financial services in the underserved and rural segments of the population. However, the vast majority of operations processed by these e-money institutions remain cash-in cash-out transactions within their own network. In an effort to modernize payment methods, the government is implementing a national switch, a nationwide platform that will interface all electronic payment systems and facilitate payment processing between service providers.
Generally, there are no restrictions on foreigners’ ability to establish bank accounts in Guinea. EcoBank is the preferred bank for most U.S. dealings with Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act (FACTA) reporting requirements. In collaboration with the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance, the central bank is implementing a bank deposit insurance scheme. The deposit coverage limit has not been set yet, but the central bank began to collect premiums from commercial banks in 2019.
In collaboration with the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance, the central bank is implementing a bank deposit insurance scheme. The deposit coverage limit has not been set yet, but the central bank began to collect premiums from commercial banks in 2019.
Foreign Exchange and Remittances
There are no restrictions or limitations placed on foreign investors for converting, transferring, or repatriating funds associated with an investment. Although there have been no recent changes to remittance policies, it is difficult to obtain foreign exchange in Guinea. Guinea has experienced significantly weakened liquidity levels over the last several years due to government mismanagement, populist policies, corruption, and a decrease in mining revenue due to lower global commodity prices. Commercial banks’ liquidity levels are affected by tight reserve requirements (22 percent of deposits) that are in line with IMF performance criteria.
Until December 2015, the exchange rate was managed by the BCRG and held to a four percent variance from the unofficial rate. The exchange rate has remained relatively stable since 2013 and has only recently depreciated versus the U.S. dollar. Between 2013 and 2015, the Guinean franc maintained a value of between 7,000 and 7,500 GNF/USD. In late 2015, the unofficial rate reached a value 10 percent higher than the official rate, during which Guinea had nearly exhausted its foreign currency reserves. The IMF recommended the BCRG float the GNF and the official rate jumped to just over 9,000 GNF/USD by March 2016. The Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, published by the IMF, describes the foreign exchange regimes of every IMF member.
Guinea has no limitations on the conversion and transfer of money or the repatriation of capital and earnings, including branch profits, dividends, interest, royalties, or management or technical service fees. The BCRG needs to be informed of any major transfers, and the wait time to remit investment returns is less than 60 days. Guinea is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, but is not included on the Financial Action Task Force. Guinea does not have a country report in the 2020 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.
There are no limits on the conversion of U.S. dollars to Guinean francs. The official exchange rate retains the capacity for volatility, but is currently holding at approximately 9,400 GNF/USD (as of April 2020). A weakened economy largely resulting from low commodity prices caused the GNF to depreciate from an average of 7,000 GNF/USD in early 2015. Since mid-2016, the official exchange rate has been keeping pace with the rate in the parallel black market.
Sovereign Wealth Funds
Guinea does not have a sovereign wealth fund.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
While all Guinea’s public utilities (water and electricity) are state-owned enterprises (SOEs), the Conde administration is moving toward allowing private enterprises to operate in this sphere. In 2015, the French firm Veolia was contracted to manage the state-owned electric utility Electricité de Guinée (EDG) – a contract which ended in October 2019. Several private projects aimed at harnessing Guinea’s solar energy potential and gas-powered thermal plants are being implemented with the goal of producing and selling energy throughout Guinea and possibly to neighboring countries. Other SOEs can be found in the telecommunications, road construction, lottery, and transport sectors. There are several other mixed companies where the state owns a significant share, that are related to the extractives industry.
The hydroelectricity sector could support Guinea’s modernization and possibly even supply regional markets. Guinea’s hydropower potential is estimated at over 6,000MW, making it a potential exporter of power to neighboring countries. In 2015, Guinea built the 240MW Kaleta Dam, doubling the country’s electricity generating capacity and providing Conakry with a more reliable source of power for most of the year. The government is now pushing forward with the more ambitious 450MW Souapiti Dam and other power generation plans, for which EDG would be the primary off-taker. The country uses and produces about 450MW, so the Souapiti project could create reserves for export. Plans for improving the distribution network to enable electricity export are in process with the development of the Gambia River Basin Development (OMVG) (Organization pour la Mise en Oeuvre de Fleuve Gambie, in French) transmission project connecting Guinea, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, and The Gambia. The OMVG project involves the construction of 1,677 kilometers of 225-volt transmission network capable of handling 800MW to provide electricity for over two million people. At the same time, Guinea is moving forward with the Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, (CLSG) transmission interconnector project, which will integrate Guinea into the West African Power Pool (WAPP) and allow for energy import-export across the region. While the government does not publish significant information concerning the financial stability of its SOEs, EDG’s balance sheet is understood to be in the red. The IMF reported that as recently as 2017, up to 28 percent of the Guinean budget has gone toward subsidizing electricity, and the IMF is demanding that EDG improve tariff collection as large numbers of users do not pay for power.
The amount of research and development (R&D) expenditures is not known, but it would be highly unlikely that any of Guinea’s SOEs would devote significant funding to R&D. Guinean SOEs are entitled to subsidized fuel, which EDG uses to run thermal generator stations in the capital. Guinea is not party to the Government Procurement Agreement.
Corporate governance of SOEs is determined by the government. Guinean SOEs do not adhere to the OECD guidelines. SOEs are supposed to report to the Office of the President, however, typically they report to a ministry. Seats on the board of governance for SOEs are usually allocated by presidential decree.
The Guinean government is actively working on privatization in the energy sector. In April 2015, the government tendered a management contract to run the state owned electrical utility EDG. French company Veolia won the tender and attempted to manage and rehabilitate the insolvent utility until the end of 2019. As of February 2020, EDG became a public limited company with its own board of directors, the new directors being appointed by the President through a decree. Bidding processes are clearly spelled out for potential bidders, however, Guinea gives weight to competence in the French language and experience working on similar projects in West Africa. In spring 2015, a U.S. company lost a fiber optics tender largely due to its lack of native French speakers on the project and lack of regional experience.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
The 2013 Mining Code includes Guinea’s first legal framework outlining corporate social responsibility. Under the provisions of the code, mining companies must submit social and environmental impact plans for approval before operations can begin and sign a code of good conduct, agreeing to refrain from corrupt activities and to follow the precepts of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). However, lack of capacity in the various ministries involved makes government monitoring and enforcement of corporate social responsibility requirements difficult, a gap that some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are filling. In February 2019, Guinea was found to have achieved meaningful progress in implementing EITI standards. The EITI Board outlined eight corrective actions, including disclosing more information on infrastructure agreements, direct subnational payments, and quasi-fiscal expenditures. The Board noted that the EITI should play a role in overseeing the new Local Economic Development Fund (FODEL). Mining companies continue to note a lack of transparency in the expenditure of revenues by the National Agency for Mining Infrastructure (ANAIM).
The 2019 Environmental Code also has specific provisions regarding environmental and social due diligence on any development projects. The Code requires each development project conduct an environmental impact study which includes a list of mitigation measures for any negative impact.
The Guinean government has put in place laws that protect the population from adverse business impacts however, these laws are not effectively enforced. In the last few years, there were several cases of private enterprise having an adverse impact on human rights, especially in the mining and energy sectors. The government is often reluctant to fully enforce legislation regarding responsible conduct and the mitigation of these impacts. There are several local and international organizations that are promoting and monitoring the implementation of RBCs.
In its 2019 Ease of Doing Business index, the World Bank ranked Guinea 156th of 190 countries worldwide, down four places from 2018. However, according to Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perception Index, Guinea moved up eight places to 130 out of 180 countries listed. Guinea passed an Anti-Corruption Law in 2017. In April 2019, a former director of the Guinean Office of Advertising was sentenced to 5 years in prison for embezzlement of GNF39 billion, approximately USD four million, however, in June 2019 he was acquitted by the Appeals Court, and was elected as a member of the National Assembly during the March 2020 legislative elections. It is not clear whether the Anti-Corruption Law was used to prosecute the case. According to the World Bank Enterprise Survey of 2016, Guinea fares better in the incidence of bribery that most sub-Saharan African countries, but this may be a matter of perception. For example, of 150 firms surveyed, 48.7 percent reported that they were expected to give gifts to public officials to get things done, but only 7.9 percent reported having paid a bribe.
The business and political culture, coupled with low salaries, have historically combined to promote and encourage corruption. Requests for bribes are a common occurrence. Though it is illegal to pay bribes in Guinea, there is little enforcement of these laws. In practice, it is difficult and time-consuming to conduct business without giving “gifts” in Guinea, leaving U.S. companies, who must comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, at a disadvantage.
Although the law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, the law does not extend to family members. It does include provisions for political parties. According to the World Bank’s 2018 Worldwide Governance Indicators, corruption continues to remain a severe problem, and Guinea is in the 13th percentile, down from being in the 15th percentile in 2012. Public funds have been diverted for private use or for illegitimate public uses, such as buying vehicles for government workers. Land sales and business contracts generally lack transparency.
Guinea’s Anti-Corruption Agency (ANLC) is an autonomous agency established by presidential decree in 2004. The ANLC reports directly to the President and is currently the only state agency focused solely on fighting corruption. However, it has been largely ineffective in its role, with no successful convictions. The ANLC’s Bureau of Complaint Reception fields anonymous tips forwarded to the ANLC. Investigations and cases must then be prosecuted through criminal courts. According to the ANLC, during the past year there were no prosecutions as a result of tips. The agency is underfunded, understaffed, and lacks computers and vehicles. The ANLC is comprised of 52 employees in seven field offices, with a budget of USD 1.1 million in 2018.
The Conde administration has named corruption in both the governmental and commercial spheres as one of its top agenda items. In November 2019, Ibrahim Magu, the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria, and President Alpha Conde reached an agreement through which the Commission will assist Guinea to establish a anti-corruption agency, however, it is not clear if that means reforming the existing anti-corruption agency or establishing a new anti-corruption agency.
A 2016 survey by the ANLC, the Open Society Initiative-West Africa (OSIWA), and Transparency International found that among private households, 61 percent of the respondents stated they were asked to pay a bribe for national services and 24 percent for local services. Furthermore, 24 percent claimed to have paid traffic-related bribes to police, 24 percent for better medical treatment, 19 percent for better water or electricity services, and 8 percent for better judicial treatment.
Since 2012, Guinea has had a Code for Public Procurement (Code de Marches Publics et Delegations de Service Public) that provides regulations for countering conflicts of interest in awarding contracts or in government procurements. In 2016, the government issued a Transparency and Ethics chart for public procurement that provides the main do’s and don’ts in public procurement, highlighting avoidance of conflict of interest as a priority. The chart also includes a template letter that companies have to sign when bidding for public contracts stating that they will comply with local legislation and public procurement provisions, including practices to prevent corruption.
Resources to Report Corruption
Contact at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:
Seko Mohamed Sylla
Deputy Executive Director
Agence Nationale de Lutte Contre la Corruption (ANLC – National Agency Against Corruption)
Cite des Nations, Conakry, Guinea +224- 669 22 82 51
EMAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dakar, Senegal +221-33-842-40-44
10. Political and Security Environment
Guinea has had a long history of political violence. The country suffered under authoritarian rule from independence in 1958 until its first democratic presidential election in 2010. It has seen political violence during its transition to democracy, although the level of political violence had been decreasing with each subsequent election since 2010. In October 2019, President Conde announced plans to hold a referendum on modifying the constitution – consequently, political violence escalated significantly. The referendum, which was held along with National Assembly elections in March 2020 culminated in political violence across the country. Over 55 people died in the protest and election violence occurring between October 2019 and March 2020. Guinea is scheduled to hold presidential elections at the end of 2020.
The state had persecuted political dissidents and opposition parties for decades. The Sekou Toure regime (1958-1984) and the Lansana Conte regime (1984-2008) were marked by political violence and human rights abuses.
Following the death of President Lansana Conte on December 22, 2008, a military junta calling themselves the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) took power in a bloodless coup. Immediately following the coup, the U.S. government suspended all but humanitarian and election assistance to Guinea. The African Union (AU) and ECOWAS suspended Guinea’s membership pending democratic elections and a relinquishment of power by the military junta. In September 2009, junta security forces attacked a political rally in a stadium in Conakry, killing 150 people, and raping many women.
Guinea experienced violent incidents in 2011 and thereafter. On July 19, 2011, the President’s personal residence was attacked with small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades. Following the attack, the government arrested and charged 33 people, mostly military personnel, with attempted murder and treason.
The small mining town of Zogota, located in Guinea’s Forest Region, saw the deaths of five villagers, including the village chief, during August 2012 clashes with security forces over hiring practices at the Brazilian iron-mining company Vale. The villagers alleged that Vale was not hiring enough local employees and was instead bringing workers from other regions of Guinea. The ensuing instability led to Vale evacuating all expatriate personnel from the town. Also in November 2012, the Ministry of Economy and Finance official and anticorruption activist Aissatou Boiro was shot and killed in her car, allegedly for her anticorruption efforts. Twenty suspects were arrested and prosecuted. The trial began in late 2017 and closed on February 4, 2019. The Dixinn District Court sentenced seven of the defendants, including the accused assassin, Mohamed Sankon to life in prison with a minimum period of 30 years. Ten were sentenced to 20 years and two others were given ten-year jail terms. The court issued arrest warrants for six further fugitives, while one other accused died in prison.
Other instances of violence occurred in 2014 and 2015 during the Ebola epidemic when local citizens attacked the vehicles and facilities of aid workers. The Red Cross, MSF (Doctors Without Borders) and the World Health Organization (WHO) also reported cases of property damage (destroyed vehicles, ransacked warehouses, etc.). On September 16, 2014, in the Forest Region village of Womei, eight people were killed by a mob when they visited the village as part of an Ebola education campaign. The casualties included radio journalists, local officials, and Guinean health care workers.
Presidential elections in 2015 sparked violent protests in Conakry, but clashes between police and demonstrators were largely contained. In addition to political violence, sporadic and generally peaceful protests over fuel prices, lack of electricity, labor disputes, and other issues have occurred in the capital and sometimes beyond since 2013. In February 2017, seven civilians died in confrontations with security services during large protests against education reforms. After two days of violent protests in March 2018, teachers’ unions and the government agreed to a raise of 40 percent. These protests over teacher union pay became intermingled with political protests over voting irregularities in the February 4 local elections. The political opposition claims the government is responsible for the deaths of over 90 people during political protests over the past eight years.
The local populace in Boke, Bel-Air, and Sangaredi disrupted road and/or railroad traffic on at least three occasions in 2017 and at least twice in 2018, in response to grievances over employment, lack of services, and other issues. Although none of these events targeted American or foreign investors, they were disruptive to business in general and eroded confidence in the security situation under which investors must operate in Guinea. Street violence is difficult to predict or avoid, but generally does not target westerners.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
Guinea has a young population and a high unemployment rate. Potential employees often lack specialized skills. The country has a poor educational system and lacks professionals in all sectors of the economy. Guinea generally lacks the specialized skills needed for large-scale projects of any kind.
According to a 2019 World Bank report on “Employment, productivity and inclusion of youth”, in 2017 Guinea’s economy was based on services (49 percent of GDP), mining and industry (37 percent) and agriculture (10 percent). The tendencies show that employment in Guinea is similar to other countries in the region, with a high level of employment in the informal sector. According to the 2018 World Bank Development Indicators, approximately 65 percent of Guineans above 15 years old, (56 percent males and 44 percent females) were employed in the formal or informal sectors. Of those employed, 52 percent were working in agricultural sector, 34 percent in commerce, and 14 percent in industry and manufacturing.
Guinea’s National Assembly adopted a new labor code in February 2014 which protects the rights of employees and is enforced by the Ministry of Technical Education, Vocational Training, Employment and Labor. The Labor Code sets forth guidelines in various sectors, the most stringent being the mining sector. Guidelines cover wages, holidays, work schedules, overtime pay, vacation, and sick leave. The Labor Code also outlaws all discrimination in hiring, including on the basis of sex, disability, and ethnicity. It also prohibits all forms of workplace harassment, including sexual harassment. However, the law does not provide antidiscrimination protections for persons based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Although the law provides for the rights of workers to organize and join independent unions, engage in strikes, and bargain collectively, the law also places restrictions on the free exercise of these rights. The Labor Code requires unions to obtain the support of 20 percent of the workers in a company, region, or trade that the union claims to represent. The code mandates that unions provide ten days’ notice to the labor ministry before striking, but the code does allow work slowdowns. Strikes are only permitted for professional claims. The Labor Code does not apply to government workers or members of the armed forces. While the Labor Code protects union officials from anti-union discrimination, it does not extend that same protection to other workers.
The law prohibits child labor in the formal sector and sets forth penalties of three to ten years imprisonment and confiscation of resulting profits. The law does not protect children in the informal sector. The minimum age for employment is 16. Exceptions allow children to work at age twelve as apprentices for light work in such sectors as domestic service and agriculture, and at 14 for other work. A new child code was adopted at the National Assembly in December 2019 and is waiting enactment by the President. The new child code provides more severe sentences for violations related to child labor.
The Labor Code allows the government to set a minimum monthly wage through the Consultative Commission for Labor and Social Laws. The minimum wage for all sectors was established in 2013 at 440,000 GNF (approximately USD50). There is no known official poverty income level established by the government.
The law mandates that regular work should not exceed ten-hour days or 48-hour weeks, and it mandates a period of at least 24 consecutive hours of rest each week, usually on Sunday. Every salaried worker has the legal right to an annual paid vacation, accumulated at the rate of at least two workdays per month of work. There also are provisions in the law for overtime and night wages, which are a fixed percentage of the regular wage. The law stipulates a maximum of 100 hours of compulsory overtime a year.
The law contains general provisions regarding occupational safety and health, but the government has not established a set of practical workplace health and safety standards. Moreover, it has not issued any orders laying out the specific safety requirements for certain occupations or for certain methods of work called for in the Labor Code. All workers, foreign and migrant included, have the right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions without penalty.
Authorities rarely monitored work practices or enforced the workweek standards and the overtime rules. Teachers’ wages are low, and teachers sometimes went for months without pay. Salary arrears were not paid, and some teachers lived in abject poverty. From 2016-2018, teachers conducted regular strikes and as a result, and were promised a 40 percent increase in pay. Initially they received only ten percent, but in March 2018, the government began to pay the remaining 30 percent. In February 2019, the teachers union accepted the government proposal at the time and returned to work. In January 2020, the teachers started an indefinite strike demanding higher wages and the re-running of a census of currently employed teachers. As of end of March 2020, the teachers’ strike was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite legal protection against working in unsafe conditions, many workers feared retaliation and did not exercise their right to refuse to work under unsafe conditions. Accidents in unsafe working conditions remain common. The government banned artisanal mining during the rainy season to prevent deaths from mudslides, but the practice continues.
Pursuant to the Labor Code, any person is considered a worker, regardless of gender or nationality, who is engaged in any occupational activity in return for remuneration, under the direction and authority of another individual or entity, whether public or private, secular or religious. In accordance with this code, forced or compulsory labor means any work or services extracted from an individual under threat of a penalty and for which the individual concerned has not offered himself willingly.
A contract of employment is a contract under which a person agrees to be at the disposal and under the direction of another person in return for remuneration. The contract may be agreed upon for an indefinite or a fixed term and may only be agreed upon by individuals of at least 16 years of age, although minors under the age of 16 may be contracted only with the authorization of the minor’s parent or guardian. An unjustified dismissal provides the employee the right to receive compensation from the employer in an amount equal to at least six months’ salary with the last gross wage paid to the employee being used as the basis for calculating the compensation due.
The Investment Code obliges new companies to prioritize hiring local employees and provide capacity training and promotion opportunities for Guineans.
12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs
Guinea and the United States have had an agreement on private investment guarantees in effect since 1962, making investors eligible for U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) insurance programs. Guinea has great potential for DFC programs, especially in the areas of banking, agriculture, IT, energy, and infrastructure. The DFC, through its predecessor the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), has been active recently in Guinea, guaranteeing the USD 250 million expansion project of Guinea’s largest bauxite exporter, and Endeavor’s USD121 million Project Te, a 50MW thermal energy project. U.S. private sector firms are interested in utilizing the DFC for infrastructure related projects in the mining and energy sectors. USAID has had a full-time transaction advisor in Guinea since March 2019. The advisor works on Power Africa’s potential role in improving the Guinean energy sector. In addition, DFC inspects the CBG expansion project semi-annually.
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.
Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available.
14. Contact for More Information
Economic and Commercial Officer
U.S. Embassy Conakry +224 657 10 4060