Natural resources are a major driver for economic growth across the African continent, and the Republic of Guinea is no exception. The country has one-third of the world’s reserves of bauxite, a wealth of iron ore reserves, and considerable diamond and gold reserves. The mining sector actually produces more than 90 percent of Guinea’s exports. Despite its prominence, though, the sector also only accounts for 17 percent of Guinea’s tax revenue and 2.6 percent of employment. Agriculture dominates job creation, accounting for 52 percent of the total workforce.
Historically, natural resource-dependent economies suffer from a variety of challenges, including resource mismanagement; high levels of corruption and rent-seeking; tensions around balancing local and national development priorities when allocating revenues; unequal and unfair partnerships with resource-exploiting companies; few jobs; and a lack of economic diversification, among others.
On Tuesday, September 17, the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) at the Brookings Institution hosted His Excellency President Alpha Condé of Guinea to share his thoughts on the many priorities that need to be balanced when managing revenues from natural resources in Africa. The event began with introductory remarks by Brookings President John R. Allen, followed by keynote remarks by President Condé. After his remarks, President Condé joined AGI Director Brahima Coulibaly on stage to discuss how Guinea has been undertaking reforms aiming at improving the business environment and opening up to high-quality foreign investment.
President Condé began his remarks by touting his government’s recent reforms for better managing its natural resources, including increased audits, tax reforms, investments in power and related infrastructure, and the full publication of mining contracts:
President Condé spoke at great length on learning lessons from developed countries as well as the importance of and difficulties around protecting the environment and local populations while still encouraging economic growth:
While President Condé emphasized the huge role mining plays in the Guinean economy, he also emphasized that the country needs economic diversification as the sector is limited in job creation:
Finally, President Condé emphasized the importance of African partnerships in driving development across the continent for the success of all: