n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - Guinea's potential mineral wealth a double-edged sword - domestic security and stability risks linked to the Simandou project - : West Africa - issue in focus

Volume 2013, Issue 11
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Guinea has been considered a relative bulwark of security in the insecure western coastal corner of West Africa, despite the francophone country's troubled political past. Comparatively speaking, Guinea has escaped the widespread or persistent conflict experienced by many of its neighbours, which include Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone. However, Guinea's own political record is tarnished by a series of autocratic leaders whose legacy of corruption can be seen in the country's abysmally low state of economic development. In addition, a climate of political instability has been cultured through numerous coup d'états, assassination attempts and questionable electoral processes. The paradox inherent in that nation is that although Guinea is desperately poor, it sits atop perhaps some of the richest mineral lodes in Africa.

Aside from gold and diamond mining, Guinea is the largest producer of bauxite in Africa, the predominant ore used for producing aluminium. Also, Guinea possesses the largest proven reserves of bauxite in the world. In addition, massive iron ore reserves in the Simandou Hills, on the southern border of the country represent an almost unprecedented bonanza. Development of a large-scale mining project at Simandou constitutes the largest such project on the continent. This project, and the massive infrastructural development set to accompany it, could provide an enormous potential boost to the country's economic recovery. However, such a project also calls into question Guinea's history of political corruption and could exacerbate internal political friction. Thus far, bauxite extraction has not translated into wealth for the country, largely as a result of mismanagement and pervasive corruption.

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