Guinea-Bissau Country Report
Guinea-Bissau remains mired in political instability as a consequence of its semi-presidential system, with the president at loggerheads with the ruling party that supported his election. The president has twice removed a prime minister he opposed, and again installed his preferred candidate in January 2018 despite having agreed in regional talks to a compromise candidate. Prolonged political stalemate is driving civil society protests and public sector strikes over unpaid wages. Current instability as well as recurring governance failures has led the IMF and European Union to suspend financial support. This prevents the country accessing USD1.2 billion in funding, mostly for infrastructure and service provision, pledged by international donors after multiparty democracy was restoredin 2014. The country remains a major transhipment point for the international drugs trade.
Guinea-Bissau has attracted higher levels of foreign investment and development pledges since 2014, mainly in offshore oil and gas exploration, mining, fishing, and the cashew nut industry. It has also set up a one-stop shop for foreign investors. Despite this, inefficient bureaucracy and protracted political instability have marred these prospects. Public sector strike action has surged, with unpaid salaries the main complaint, and the private sector has also been affected by demands for wage increases. The infiltration of cocaine traffickers has served to raise corruption risks in state institutions.
Domestic terrorism threat remains low despite the arrest of two men suspected of links to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Bissau on 14 March 2016. Organised crime and drug trafficking by high-ranking army elements constitute the main threats, posing a high threat to security and to regime stability. Reported links between Guinea-Bissau and the AQIM, MUJAO, and Ansar al-Din terrorist groups have been generally unfounded and correspond more to a European security agenda than realities on the ground, although Guinea-Bissau presents suitable conditions to function as a safe-haven and operational centre for transnational terrorism.
War risks are likely to increase if ECOWAS decides to conduct a phased withdrawal of the ECOMIB peacekeeping troops. The withdrawal, scheduled to begin in May 2017, has been extended for another three months in tandem with the deadline given by ECOWAS to national authorities to implement the provisions of the Conakry Agreement. Army factions implicated in drug trafficking are also likely to resist the planned five-year USD270-million security-sector reform that would reduce the military's size, influence, and therefore ability to control the lucrative cocaine trade. Moreover, any effective security-sector reform will be highly contingent on ending political instability and the deadlock in parliament.
The population at large is unsatisfied with socio-economic conditions, a political elite perceived as corrupt, the performance of the authorities, and poor service delivery. There has been widespread protest and strike action associated with political paralysis, and more recently focusing on the obstructive role of President José Mário Vaz. Triggers such as a hike in the prices of basic goods or fuel, or persistent water supply cuts, would be likely to cause violent protests in major cities, leading to confrontations with security forces. Security sector reform may also contribute to short-term unrest due to resistance from the military.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and over one year of age.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Finally, the monsoon season lasts from May to November. Torrential rains often hit the country between July and September and can cause significant damage to infrastructure, including roads.
There are no direct flights between Guinea-Bissau and continental Europe.
Roads are generally poorly maintained and seldom lit, even in the capital, although improvements are underway. Due to these planned infrastructure projects, traffic jams are frequent, especially on Avenue des Combatentes da Liberdade da Patri in the center of Bissau.
It is not recommended to drive at night. Drivers should stay on the main paved roads, both in the capital and throughout the country.
During the rainy season (June to October), remain vigilant; some roads can become impassable and urban traffic can be highly disrupted.
There is no public transportation in Bissau. Travelers should take care in selecting a taxi and driver.
There are frequent cuts in the supply of water and electricity.
Payments by credit card and bank check are not accepted in Bissau.
Guinea-Bissau's climate is wet and tropical, particularly along the coast, with a period of heavy rain from June until November and a dry season lasting from December until May. During the rainy season, ocean winds often bring heavy rains to the entire country and floods are common. High levels of humidity in combination with high temperatures often make conditions uncomfortable. During the dry season days are hot and sunny while nights are cool. Weather conditions are much drier when the Harmattan, a hot and dry trade wind from the Sahara, passes through the country.
There are no emergency services in Guinea-Bissau.
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz