What Are The Biggest Industries In Guinea?

By C.L. Illsley on March 16 2020 in Economics

Guinea's large mineral deposits contribute to much of the country's GDP. Photo by Tim Oun on Unsplash
  • Guinea's official language is French.
  • The country's Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (which stretches into the Ivory Coast) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Guinea gained its independence on Oct. 2/1958.

Previously known as French Guinea, the modern nation of Guinea, formally known as the Republic of Guinea, is located in west Africa. Covering a land area of some 94,873 square miles, Guinea is home to a population of about 13,019,198 residents with a population density of 138 people per square mile. Almost 40% of Guinea's citizens reside in rural areas of the country. 

Guinea's economy is based on a number of key domestic industries including mining, agriculture, fishing, energy, and communications. Statistics show that over the past several decades Guinea has continued to be one of a small percentage of African countries with a growing economy. In 1990, for example, the nation's GDP (gross domestic product) was valued at $5.1 billion dollars. In 2008, that number grew to $15.9 billion, and figures from 2017 indicate that this number has increased even further up to a total of $24.47 billion. Statistics from 2017 also indicate that Guinea's GDP can be broken down into various key sectors with the service industry making up the largest percentage with just over 42%, industry comes in at 38.4%, and agriculture makes up 19.5%.

Mining

Guinea is well known for being rich in mineral resources such as bauxite, iron ore, uranium, as well as gold and diamonds. Bauxite is especially important to Guinea's economy with natural reserves of the sedimentary rock used in aluminum production estimated to total seven point four billion tonnes which can be translated into approximately one third to 25% of all the bauxite reserves in the entire world. Approximately 80% of Guinea's foreign exchange is due to the nation's aluminum production and bauxite mining industries. 

The history of mining in Guinea dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. The industry developed further during the nation's colonial period when it was under the control of France. Guinea's domestic mining industry has continued to play a very important role in its national economy ever since. In 2017 mining made up over 50% of the nation's exports and Guinea's bauxite mining accounted for 94% of Africa's total bauxite mining production. 

Besides bauxite, other minerals mined in Guinea include iron ore, uranium, gold, and diamonds. Less plentiful mining resources in the nation include nickel, manganese, limestone, salt, cement, and graphite. 

Guinea's iron ore reserves are estimated to total 4 billion tonnes. Guinea is home to a number of key iron mines including the Simandou mine which is located in southern Guinea's Simandou mountain range. Here it's estimated that iron ore deposits total about two point four billion tonnes. 

Much of the gold mining industry in Guinea takes place in northeastern areas of the country such as the Lefa mine in the nation's Faranah region. This particular gold mine is one of the world's biggest with reserves estimated to total approximately 7.78 million ounces.

The estimated value of diamonds found in Guinea is 40 million carats. In the year 2012, production amounted to 266,800 carats. 

Agriculture

The agricultural sector has always played a vital role in the lives of Guinea's local population and its national economy. Figures from 2008 show that about 84% of workers in the country are employed in this industry. Major agricultural products produced in the nation include sugarcane, cassava (also called yuca and manioc), rice, corn, yams, palm kernels, coconuts, bananas, peanuts, pineapple, and coffee.  Other important products include timber and meat from sheep, goats, and cows.

Figures from 1999 illustrate the importance of agricultural production in Guinea. In that one year, the nation produced 89,000 tons of corn, 220,000 tons of sugarcane, 750,000 tons of rice, 18,000 tons of coconuts, 89,000 tons of yam, and 812,000 tons of cassava. 

Fishing

In terms of fishing, Guinea's total catch in 2000 amounted to 91,513 tons of which the vast majority (96%) was caught in ocean waters. That same year exported fish totaled $25 million with the fishing industry making up only 1.5% of national GDP. The most important species of domestically caught fish was tuna. 

Energy

Guinea's energy sector is largely composed of hydropower and fossil biomass. Hydropower utilizes water in the production of energy. Although the country has a great deal of potential for generating hydroelectricity, unfortunately, this industry has largely been underdeveloped. The country's largest energy resource is biomass which uses animal or plant materials in order to create energy. Firewood and charcoal are particularly important elements for the production of this domestic energy source. As far back as 1995, the nation's greatest energy source was firewood which accounted for 85% of the energy used by local residents. Years later in 2008, biomass replaced firewood and accounted for 89% of energy consumption. In 2012, statistics show that although 23% of domestic households in the country use charcoal for cooking purposes some 74% still use firewood. It's interesting to note that all oil and petroleum products used in the country must be imported from other parts of the world. 

Communications

Despite great technological advances around the world, Guinea lags far behind when it comes to innovations in communication. One of the main reasons behind Guinea's poor telecommunications system is the nation's high rate of poverty. Guinea is home to some of the poorest people in all of western Africa. Today most residents must rely on radio communication for information. Guinea is home to only one government-owned radio network (Radio Television Guineenne) as well as a number of private stations. In regards to television, programming Guinea has only one government-owned television station, but local citizens can access foreign programming using cable and satellite subscriptions. Telephone services are not adequate for the country's population, and cell phone line use rose from approximately 790,000 in 2007 up to 12,394 million in 2019. Internet service is also poor in the country with only 1.5% of the nation's population having access to this increasingly vital service. In 2014, Internet users in Guinea numbered 2,147 million. That number rose to 4,563 million in 2019, which still only represents 38% of the nation's total population. 

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