Guinea's Development Partners and Investor Conference, supported by the authorities of the United Arab Emirates, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), successfully concluded this Monday, 25th November. The conference featured the President of the Republic of Guinea Professor Alpha Condé's ambitious vision for Guinea's future, economic diversification and sector strategies, and sixty transformative projects to which partners and investors made financial commitments of over US$ 6 billion.
The conference was chaired by the President of the Republic of Guinea, with His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates in attendance, alongside many other influential personalities in the areas of economic development and finance. These included Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Founder and Patron of the Africa Governance Initiative; Bernard Kouchner, former French Minister of Foreign Affairs; El hadj Ahmed Mohamed Ali, President of the Islamic Development Bank; Mr. Thierry Tanoh, Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank; Mr. Makhtar Diop, Vice-president, Africa Region, World Bank; Mr. Philippe Prosper, Vice-president, Africa and Latin America, International Finance Corporation (IFC); Mr. Zondo Thomas Sakala, Vice-President for Country and Regional Programs and Policies, AfDB; Mr. Harry Snoek, Deputy Division Chief, Africa Department, International Monetary Fund (IMF); Mr. Anthony Ohemeng-Boamah, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Guinea; Mr. Sam Walsh, CEO of Rio Tinto; and Mr. Xiong Weiping, Chairman of Chinalco. Representatives from other donor, multilateral, and bilateral development agencies, in addition to Guinean and international thought leaders also took part. Over 600 invitees attended to hear Guinea's new strategy for growth and investment, despite the fact that the Convention Hall of Jumeirah Hotel at Etihad Towers had anticipated only 350 participants.
The first day was marked by presentations, panel discussions, and financial commitments from development partners to public investment projects. Additional panel discussions took place during the second day, including presentations to and by the private sector on several investment opportunities. The highlight of the two-day conference was the signing of several major agreements between the government, donors, and private investors committing financial support to multiple economic development projects.
The strategic partnership between the Republic of Guinea and the United Arab Emirates was realized through an agreement totaling US$ 5 billion between Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi economic diversification fund, Global Emirates Aluminum Corporation and the Guinean government on a bauxite mining project in Sangarédi, the construction of an aluminum refinery, and the expansion of the mining port of Kamsar. This agreement reflects the new dynamic potential of foreign investments in Guinea.
The Guinean government also signed two memoranda of understanding; one with agribusiness company Al Dahra to develop private investment opportunities in agriculture to support rural development, and the other with the Abu Dhabi Port Corporation for the expansion of the Port of Kamsar. The AfDB also signed two credit agreements and two grant agreements in the water and energy sectors, totaling US$ 63 million.
In terms of declarations of intent, the World Bank pledged US$ 500 million to support the implementation of Guinea's Poverty Reduction Strategy in the hydropower, agriculture, and education sectors, as well as in the areas of governance and regional growth. The World Bank representative invited other development partners to provide similar support. The Islamic Development Bank responded to this appeal, promising to inject US$ 300 million into infrastructure development, improvement of education and training, and access to quality healthcare. In addition, the AfDB allocated US$ 250 million to fund economic and social development programs for Guinea. As for the Saudi Fund for Development—which recently identified an estimated US$ 32 million worth of investment projects during an exploratory mission in Guinea—expressed its intent to commit a sum of US$ 100 million, with an additional US$ 30 million in budget support to the Government of Guinea. The European Union intends to commit €200 million to Guinea's development vision, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, whose Guinea investments since 2011 amount to US$ 170 million, announced its focus on support for infrastructure, education, capacity building, and fishing projects. Finally, Germany pledged €24.4 million in financial and technical assistance to Guinea for the fields of primary education, and reproductive and child health.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), after saluting Guinea's efforts to promote peace and regional stability, announced that it will look to build on Guinea's efforts to boost the regional economy of West Africa.
These strong commitments by development partners and investors will help Guinea' realize its vision for the emergence and diversification of its economy. The Guinean government and the private sector had the opportunity during this conference to showcase the concrete business opportunities Guinea offers to global partners. Investors left the Abu Dhabi conference reassured of the drivers behind Guinea's rapid improvement on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business index, and the determination of the Guinean authorities to continue efforts to stimulate the business environment.
The success of the conference, commitments, signed agreements and open dialogue with investors are a concrete illustration of the actions Guinea has taken to jumpstart its economic transformation. "The challenges are many, but there is no doubt that Guinea is moving forward step by step," remarked His Excellency Mr. Kerfalla Yansané, Guinea's Minister of State, Minister of Economy and Finance. "With this conference, we brought Guinea to the world. Now the world needs to be brought to Guinea."