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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs