Simandou, Guinea

We asked one of our UK members to write about Guinea following his meetings there in October with ministers who’d kindly given him a good deal of their valuable time.  He reported for us here.  Since then, we’ve periodically provided colleagues with snippets on Guinea they might find interesting or useful; you’ll find some of those if you simply scroll down on our front page.

For now, it’s worth watching what’s going on in Davos.  What?  You say.  How amazing and original of you!  But the fact is that Conakry takes these things seriously.  President Conde understands the importance of international support; politically, commercially.  He does these occasions like a Cannes winner.  That’s why he’s a president; he is, actually, a Davos winner, which is far more important than Cannes.

So here’s what we know. Tony Blair visited Conakry last week. OK, everyone is aware of that.  The top theoretical question for any politician is when the actual parliamentary elections are going to be held.  You can only go so far complaining about the opposition – and the presidential election was in 2010.  We think that if President Conde, a decent man, doesn’t hold parliamentary elections by the Summer then international supporters who genuinely believe in him will quickly withdraw their support.

Into all of this drop president conde’s promise to manage the Guinean economy.  For now, that means fixing the mining issue which is Simandou.  It’s likely that Tony Blair has been pressing the case of Rio Tinto.  While it seems likely that president Conde will do his best to deal with Rio’s ‘concerns’, it’s not clear he’s in a position to fix Vale’s.  We hope he will because that’ll be a test of whether or not that thoroughly decent man commands his own government.