FRESH START. FALSE START?

20 09 2010

I’m back on the blog, now writing from brand new headquarters! Maybe I was projecting my enthusiasm for renouveau but I dared to think that Guinea was up to a fresh start too when it held its first democratic elections since 1958 a few weeks ago. Perhaps that was even shared by Rio Tinto and Chinalco when they signed their binding joint venture agreement regarding the Simandou iron ore project.  With the postponement of the second round of the presidential election (scheduled 09-19-2010) due to unrest, I guess that I’ll have to review and lower my expectations.

I assumed that after the election, the newly elected President would act swiftly to re-dynamize Guinea’s mining industry, considering the sheer size of the sector relative to Guinea’s economy. In the past years, upheavals(exhibit 1 and 2) in the development of the Simandou iron ore project, revisions of contracts and attempted expropriations have hindered the development of mineral resources.  If carefully exploited, these could make Guinea a prosperous West African country.

My enthusiasm was propelled by the abundant presence of “it” minerals (iron ore, gold, diamonds and bauxite) in Guinea.  I was clearly planning on listing projects that were upcoming or seemingly shelved as a result of the coup. Yet, these are likely trivial now as we’re faced with setbacks in a democratization process and further instability which, in the case of Guinea is not new.

Now the first step has to be taken, the step towards democracy. This step is full of risks, and requires trust on all sides. We don’t know where it will lead. But if we just stand still, we will have no chance of escaping the violence. Daniel Barenboim

Democracy is an objective. Democratization is a process. Democratization serves the cause of peace because it offers the possibility of justice and of progressive change without force. Boutros Boutros-Ghali

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