News / Africa

Guineans Upbeat over Future with New Leader

Guinea president elect Alpha Conde is surrounded by supporters in Conakry, Guinea, (file)
Guinea president elect Alpha Conde is surrounded by supporters in Conakry, Guinea, (file)

As Guinea's first freely-elected president gets to work, hopes are high that his government will tackle the power cuts, lack of running water and rising food prices that continue to make life daily difficult for many Guineans.

The election of Guinea's new president, veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde, on Nov. 7 was billed as the country's first free and fair presidential election since independence and held up as an example for its neighbors.

It marked an end of two years of tenuous, and at times violent, political crisis following a December 2008 military coup and nearly half a century of dictatorial rule.

Speaking at his inauguration in December, Mr. Conde vows to bring Guinea out of poverty and underdevelopment and encourage economic growth and social progress so that Guinea can rejoin the world's emerging nations.

Many Guineans fear the "new era" that Mr. Conde promised is a long way from becoming reality.

Residents of the capital, Conakry, say daily life has grown increasingly difficult since the election, thanks to electricity and water cuts.

In Conakry, residents say prices have risen for basic food staples, such as rice and sugar. The price of locally-grown rice, they say, has doubled to nearly $70 for a 100-kilo bag, since the second round of polling.

"Life after the elections is difficult because all the commodities are high. The prices are high, even rice. We cannot afford it,” one resident said. “Everything is too difficult. It is too much."

The resource-rich country is the world's biggest exporter of bauxite, the raw material in aluminum. Yet, poor governance and political unrest have kept mining revenues from reaching ordinary Guineans, most of whom live on less than $1 a day.

Analysts say the new government faces a monumental to-do list that includes everything from overhauling the country's unruly security forces and healing ethnic divisions to renegotiating mining contracts and winning back billions of dollars in foreign aid.

Aly Fancinadouno, a health worker in the capital, said Guineans must be patient. "The change has started but it is a very long and slow process,” Fancinadouno states. “There is nothing in our Central National Bank. There is nothing as funds. The new authorities, they need funds to start, so Guineans have to be patient."

Three-quarters of Guinea's population live outside the capital, most without access to electricity, running water and basic healthcare.

U.N. Children's Fund representative to Guinea, Julien Morcom-Harneis, says Mr. Conde has inherited a network of vastly under-resourced social services. The health sector, he said, poses the weightiest challenge, at it has not seen significant investment in nearly a decade.

"We have seen worsening maternal and neonatal mortality, which is very unusual particularly for a country which has not gone through a conflict. That more babies are dying and more mothers are dying in childbirth than there was a couple of years ago is a reflection of the decrepit nature of the health infrastructure," Morcom-Harneis said.

He said the majority of health services and staff are concentrated in the capital and rural health centers need more health staff and better access to basic medicines.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs