The people of Guinea are among the poorest in West Africa, and this reality is reflected in the development of the country’s telecommunications environment. Radio is the most important source of information for the public in Guinea, and the only one to reach the entire country. The mobile cellular system is growing rapidly, but Internet usage is very low, which hampers further development.
The Internet penetration rate was 7% in 2017. Fixed-line teledensity is extremely low, with less than 1% of the population having access to it, whereas mobile-cellular subscribership is expanding rapidly, reaching 90 per 100 persons.
There has been a huge improvement in the Guinean telecoms market over the last 10 years. The capital and the regional administrative centers now have 3G access. There is national mobile coverage and the capital, Conakry, is reasonably well-served, but coverage elsewhere remains inadequate.
Guinea is a poor country of approximately 12.9 million people in 2016 that possesses the world’s largest reserves of bauxite and largest untapped high-grade iron ore reserves, as well as gold and diamonds. In addition, Guinea has fertile soil, ample rainfall, and is the source of several West African rivers, including the Senegal, Niger, and Gambia. Guinea’s hydro potential is enormous and the country could be a major exporter of electricity. The country also has tremendous agriculture potential. Gold, bauxite, and diamonds are Guinea’s main exports. International investors have shown interest in Guinea’s unexplored mineral reserves, which have the potential to propel Guinea’s future growth.
The biggest threats to Guinea’s economy are political instability, a reintroduction of the Ebola virus epidemic, and low international commodity prices. Economic recovery will be a long process while the government adjusts to lower inflows of international donor aid following the surge of Ebola-related emergency support. An enduring legacy of corruption, inefficiency, and lack of government transparency, combined with fears of renewed epidemics, continue to undermine Guinea’s economic viability.
The Societé des Telecoms de Guinee (aka “Sotelgui”) was the incumbent telecom operator in Guinea, but it was declared bankrupt in February 2013. Since then several aborted attempts have been made to restart its operations. Although it was expected to be relaunched in 2017, no specific date has been announced. Sotelgui’s financial situation had been gradually deteriorating since April 2010, and the company is reportedly owed USD22.5 million by the government, following years of non-payment for services.
(None reported as of September 2017)