Guinea-Bissau Country Report
Guinea-Bissau's three-year political stalemate led to a barely functioning government, causing policy paralysis and stalling economic reforms. The president twice removed a prime minister he opposed and again installed his preferred candidate in February 2018 despite having agreed at ECOWAS-brokered talks on a compromise candidate. However, in April 2018, President Vaz appointed a consensual prime minister, Aristides Gomes, tasked with leading an interim government ahead of the November 2018 legislative elections, so tempering the political crisis and ending the deadlock in parliament. Anti-government protests were held regularly in Bissau, aiming to force the government to fulfil the 2016 Conakry Agreement, and have now shifted the focus on to repeated delays to the electoral censusand the postponement of legislative elections initially scheduled for 18 November. Current instability and recurring governance failures have led the IMF and the European Union to suspend financial support, preventing the country accessing USD1.2 billion in funding, mostly for infrastructure and service provision, pledged by international donors after multiparty democracy was restored in 2014. Recent developments have nevertheless led to the partial resumption of financial aid. The country remains a major transshipment 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.
The domestic terrorism threat remains low despite the arrest of two men suspected of links to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Bissau in 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. Reports of 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 ECOMIB peacekeeping mission was extended to 30 September 2019 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 election of a new government.
There has been widespread protest and strike action associated with political paralysis, and more recently focusing on the government's inability to conduct the electoral census and ensure that the legislative elections were held as initially scheduled. Triggers such as hikes in the prices of basic goods or fuel are likely to cause violent protests in major cities, leading to confrontations with security forces. The run-up to the legislative and presidential elections is highly likely to worsen political tensions, creating politically motivated civil unrest and protests. Security-sector reform is also likely to 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