Guinea Country Report
Travelers to this small West African country (12.28 million inhabitants) should be mainly concerned with the country's health conditions and the political climate.
Guinean society has many ethnicities and is not immune to inter-community violence, especially in its southeastern region, Guinea forest region, which is afflicted by numerous socioeconomic and security problems. There is animosity between the local Guerzé people and the Malinke population, who are seen as foreigners monopolizing the economic sector in the region. Significant unrest preceded the presidential elections in October 2015 in Nzerekore. Violence is frequent in this region, which is far from the capital Conakry, and is a transit hub for waves of refugees from Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Moreover, organized crime is prevalent in Guinea, with a marked increase in the trafficking of arms and drugs. West Africa has become a transit hub for drug consumption and production and large-scale seizures regularly occur. Countries in the region, including Guinea, have established a joint security program to fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. A strategic operation plan was recently unveiled, providing for the establishment of joint border patrols, the strengthening of information sharing, and the organization of joint training exercises. Emphasis was also placed on increased border monitoring, to mitigate the risk of armed incursions and border violence, if they develop.
After decades of political instability, military and autocratic regimes in Guinea, calm was restored with the election of Alpha Condé in 2010. Although the presidential election on October 11, 2015 was preceded by a wave of violence, on November 2, 2015, the Supreme Court confirmed the election of Condé (re-elected with 58 percent of the vote) for a second consecutive term.
However, political protests are recurrent throughout the country. Civil society protest groups, mainly organized by the political opposition, denounce the governance failure of Condé and his party, accusing him of being the cause of the poor economic performance of the country. Demonstrators also protest against corruption, the high cost of living, public health problems, and insecurity. In November 2016, demonstrations were organized to denounce the high cost of rent in Conakry.
As a precaution, it is essential to be aware of developments in the political situation of Guinea and to consistently avoid any gatherings. It is recommended to exercise particular vigilance in Hamdallaye neighborhoods on the Prince highway (axis Bambetto - Cosa). Demonstrators most frequently gather at the Conakry - Gbessia international airport (CKY) before crossing the districts of Matoto and Matam via the N1 motorway (Fidel Castro highway), generally ending at the People's Palace. Such events usually start around 08:00 (local time) and end in the early afternoon. Transportation disruptions are possible in the vicinity of the above-mentioned areas.
Student protests against poor working conditions are also regularly organized, especially in Conakry, and have the potential to turn violent. Major demonstrations were organized in early 2017 to denounce a teacher strike that paralyzed the education system for several weeks, and resulted in the deaths of five people.
Finally, demonstrations organized by disgruntled users of the national electricity system often take place in Guinea, which is plagued by recurring power cuts, especially during the rainy season. Protesters usually gather outside the headquarters of the Electricity of Guinea (EDG). Demonstrations are especially frequent during sports competitions. In addition, gasoline shortages can trigger violent protests, such as the one that took place in Conakry in early February 2017.
In Conakry and its suburbs, visitors are often exposed to the risk of criminal activity, often fueled by poverty.
Armed robberies, violent carjackings, and burglaries are not uncommon in Conakry, including in residential areas. Hotel rooms are also targeted. Criminals often don military uniform, and are sometimes hooded. Perpetrators often resort to violence while carrying out crimes.
French authorities state that "travelers should be particularly vigilant in the Hamdallaye neighborhoods on Highway Prince (axis Bambetto - Cosa)" due to recurring demonstrations. In addition, some Western governments advise against taking up residence in neighborhoods located east of Taouyah without taking strong precautions (shield doors, radio or telephone contact with the embassy).
In the capital, foreign visitors should also take necessary precautions in the Niger, Madina, and Taouyah markets, even in broad daylight. Pickpockets are prevalent, including children. In the rest of the city, security is generally adequate during the day.
At the beginning of the month, attempts at extortion perpetrated by officials and police officers tend to increase. The Holiday season, the end of Ramadan, and the feast of Tabaski are generally marred by an increase in crime. There are also reports of "highway bandit" attacks in the Mamou region and on the road linking Faranah - Kissidougou - Gueckedou - Macenta - Nzerekore.
Individuals involved in the diamond and gold trade must be especially vigilant; the mineral trade attracts criminal gangs notorious for kidnapping and extortion. Furthermore, commercial scams related to the diamond and gold export business and precious metal certification have been reported.
Simple precautionary measures must be followed: do not carry valuables and never resist in the case of an assault.
The terrorist threat remains low. However, West Africa has been the victim of various attacks (Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, etc.), travelers should be cautious, especially in crowded tourist places such as hotels, restaurants, cafes, and beach resorts. The British government has assessed the terror threat as "heightened."
The Ebola epidemic has decimated the Guinean medical system, and many medical staff were negatively impacted in the fight against the disease.
Prior to departure, travelers should purchase a health insurance plan covering overseas care and medical repatriation, the latter being highly recommended in case of a significant or urgent health issue.
Travelers entering Guinea from a country where yellow fever is endemic, are required to present a certificate of immunization against the disease. Yellow fever immunization is mandatory but highly recommended by the WHO for other travelers coming from Europe, North America, Oceania, or Asia.
Moreover, Lassa fever is endemic throughout the country, with a higher risk in the eastern part of the country. Malaria, the leading cause of death in the country, is present throughout Guinea. It is recommended to take individual protective measures against mosquito-bites and suitable treatment.
Tap water is not safe for consumption and diarrheal diseases are frequent in the country. It is recommended to only drink filtered bottled water, to make sure food is properly cooked, and to wash hands several times a day.
To avoid the risk of parasitic infection, it is advised to avoid contact with stagnant water (e.g. lakes, ponds). Walking barefoot outdoors is not recommended.
Moreover, it is necessary to take precautions against HIV/AIDS, which is highly prevalent throughout the country.
Meanwhile, vaccines against measles and meningitis are recommended as cases of these diseases are often reported.
Guinea is located along the "meningitis belt." Risk of exposure to meningitis is high. Most reported cases occur between March and June. The risk is particularly high in High Guinea (Siguiri, Kankan, Kouroussa, Dinguiraye, Dabola, Faranah, Mandiana, Kerouané, and Kissidougou) and in the Forested Guinea region (Nzérékoré, Yomou, and Guéckédou).
From January to the end of April 2017, a measles epidemic struck the country, in particular Conakry and Nzérékoré. Nearly 3500 cases were reported, resulting in 14 deaths.
Ebola fever epidemics have had a serious toll on Guinea. The latest outbreak is the largest recorded since the identification of the disease in 1976. Between March 2014 and February 2016, 3804 cases were registered in Guinea, leading to 2536 deaths. On June 1, 2016, after two years of epidemic, including a last resurgence in March 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the end of the outbreak.
The whole country, particularly Conakry, is regularly affected by heavy rainfalls between May and September, causing major flooding. The lack of adequate infrastructure hampers efficient drainage. This can also cause severe disruptions in transportation.
Several international companies provide air links to Europe and other African capitals.
A number of cases of travelers who were followed from the airport to their home to be attacked have been reported. It is advisable to organize transportation from the airport prior to departure.
The country suffers from unreliable, inadequate, and degraded road infrastructure. During the rainy season (May to October) roads are generally unreliable, especially in Low-Guinea and in the Forested Guinea region. The road between Gueckedou to Macenta is in a state of general disrepair.
The danger of road accidents is heightened by the disregard of traffic rules by other drivers as well as the non-maintenance of vehicles, and the lack of medical care facilities. Due to the lack of public lighting all night travel should be avoided. It is advised to take the highway when driving. All accidents, especially deadly accidents, may easily escalate into a violent riot. In case of an accident travelers should not leave the vehicle and immediately go to the nearest police station.
In Conakry, and in the rest of the country, it is recommended to ensure that vehicle doors are locked and the windows rolled up due to the risk of carjackings. Travelers are also advised to be wary of police or military officers who appear unexpectedly. Do not open your door and alert the anti-crime police and diplomatic authorities.
Western authorities formally advise against all travel by public transport.
Outside major cities, all travel must be done during the day, with an all-terrain vehicle (4x4), possibly in convoy, equipped with adequate supplies of water, food, and fuel. Make sure that the vehicle contains mechanical spare parts (wheels, cables, etc.) and have effective means of telecommunication.
Roadblocks manned by police officers are common, especially in the provinces. Security checks can be in-depth. It is advisable to cooperate with security forces at roadblocks and to carry all necessary personal and vehicle documents.
Electricity grids are unreliable in the country and access to electricity is not guaranteed throughout the territory. Only 26.2 percent of the population has access to electricity.
Western diplomatic authorities generally advise that travelers choose an international hotel close to the city center or residential areas.
Homophobia is prevalent in Guinea and sometimes repressed by the authorities.
It is forbidden to photograph or film certain infrastructure (government buildings, airports, infrastructure such as bridges or art work, etc.) as well as members of the security forces.
Precious stone trafficking, including diamonds or gold, is strictly prohibited in Guinea.
Foreign journalists must report to the High Authority for Communication (HAC), carry their business card, and have a written explanation of their purpose in the country from their employer.
Guinea's climate is tropical and the country experiences two seasons. Generally speaking, the rainy season lasts from May until November and the dry season from December until April.
The country is divided into four distinct climatic regions. The west, along the Atlantic coast, is very wet. The climate is more temperate in the center (where the rainy and dry seasons are equally long). The climate then becomes more “Sudanese” (dry and tropical) heading northeast; this area receives less rain than the rest of the country and temperatures are high throughout the year, with the exception of the period from December to February when the Harmattan, a dry and dusty trade wind, blows across the region (temperature around 15°C instead of 40°C). Guinea's southeast is subequatorial and experiences a long rainy season (8-10 months/year) and average temperatures between 24°C and 28°C.
Useful NumbersCountry Code: +224 LAC (anti-crime brigade): Districts of Taouyah, Hamdallaye, Gbessia, aéroport: 60 20 10 67 Districts of Kaporo rails, Ratoma: 60 25 81 60 District of Matoto: 60 25 81 62 District of Enta: 60 25 81 63
Phone networks are not always in working condition in the country. This can affect emergency numbers as well.
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz
Guinea: Ruling RPG party wins local elections /update 10
TIMEFRAME: from 2/22/2018, 12:00 AM until 2/24/2018, 11:59 PM (Africa/Conakry).
Guinea: At least three killed during protests in Conakry /update 9
TIMEFRAME: from 2/19/2018, 12:00 AM until 2/20/2018, 11:59 PM (Africa/Conakry).