Rusal boosts Guinea’s sustainable development
The West African country of Guinea is rich in natural resources and yet suffers from some of the highest poverty rates in the region. Sustainable development initiatives, many of them supported by Rusal, are helping Guinea build a brighter future.
Sustainable development has always been a priority for Guinea’s president Alpha Conde, who came into power saying that he would help to turn the country into an economic powerhouse
Unfortunately, conditions have not always been favourable for sustainable development in Guinea. Political instability, providing for refugees from neighbouring countries, and most recently the devastation wreaked by Ebola have all taken their toll on Guinea. The funding and manpower needed for sustainable development in many sectors – such as healthcare and infrastructure – has been lacking.
The needs, however, are great. Life expectancy is just 53 years for men and 56 years for women. Figures from the World Bank suggest that poverty affected approximately 55% of Guinea’s population in 2012; that percentage may well be higher now, after the impact of Ebola. Poorly controlled urbanization, which is seeing Guinea’s population shift from the countryside to the city in search of work, is also an obstacle that needs to be overcome. Implementing workable plans for sustainable development in Guinea is more important than ever.
Steps towards sustainable development in Guinea
Guinea is taking steps to alleviate its problems, and is doing its best to ensure that these events do not knock it off course in its journey towards sustainable development. For example, Guinea is taking part in three key partnerships for Sustainable Development Goals via the United Nations. These three sustainability initiatives are the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) which aims to slow the rate of global warming and in turn advance national priorities such as protecting air quality; protecting its ocean as a sustainable food source via the Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC); and taking part in the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) project, a movement which recognises that sustainable, reliable sources of good nutrition are among the best investments a country such as Guinea can make to forward its sustainable development.
Progress is also being made by Guinea in other areas key for sustainable development. The UN notes that youth literacy is at around 95%, and that Guinea has made an “astonishing improvement” in gender parity in education between 1990 and 2011 (70% to 86.9%).
How one of Guinea’s main investors helps support sustainable development
Sustainable development in Guinea is, on the whole, moving in the right direction. President Alpha Condé has rightly noted that the drive towards sustainable development can only come from within, not without, the country, saying that “the development of Africa will be done only by Africans”.
Even so, Guinea has received critical support from overseas investors in the area of sustainable development. Rusal is chief among them, working with Guinea for many years and undertaking a number of sustainable development initiatives and public-private partnerships (PPPs) to help Guinea reach its sustainable development goals. These initiatives in Guinea are wide and varied, and largely focused on the key sustainable development areas of safety, infrastructure healthcare and education.
Given the fact that safe, reliable drinking water and electrification are the mainstays of sustainable development, Rusal has assisted with the construction of water pipes and water treatment equipment. In 2008, Rusal helped to support sustainable development in Guinea by building drinking water wells in Simbai village and spearheading a power supply project in Mambia village.
Sustainable development in Guinea cannot take place without a healthy workforce, and as such, Rusal also takes the health of its employees very seriously. Its Rusal Medical Centre (RMC) plays a leading role in providing high-quality medical, preventative and emergency care. At the height of the Ebola crisis, Rusal helped Guinea in the development of sustainable healthcare models through the construction of its $10m Centre for Epidemic and Microbiological Research and Treatment (CEMRT), built in the context of public-private partnerships with both the Guinean and Russian governments. The CEMRT will now serve as a cornerstone of Guinea’s public healthcare system.
How Rusal furthers Guinea’s sustainable development through education
Sustainable development in Guinea – and indeed any other developing nation – requires a well-educated population. This is another area in which Rusal supports Guinea. In 2009, the company repaired a school in Debele village at a cost of $25,819. Each year, it provides school supplies in the villages of Mambia, Pushkin and Debele – educating the young people who will help Guinea achieve its future development.
Guinea, along with Guyana and Jamaica, is one of the countries in which Rusal has implemented a large-scale educational programme, which enables 100 students aged between 18 and 25 to study at a leading Russian higher education institution, with all expenses related to their studies and accommodation covered. These students are also provided with on-the-job training at Rusal’s enterprises and a guaranteed job when they graduate.
Rusal also has helped to foster sustainable development in the country through education via its regular professional skills competitions, which aim to help upskill the workforce. The global Rusal Professionals competition is open to the country’s best employees, and competition winners receive cash prizes and gifts.
Rusal has also supported sustainable development in Guinea through a number of ad-hoc projects. For example, Rusal assisted in the repair and reconstruction of the administration building of the Mambia sub-prefecture, and repairs to roads in the city of Conakry. Rusal has also helped Guinea foster sustainable development in the areas of culture and sport by helping reconstruct the municipal mosque and Catholic church of Fria and providing sports facilities for its workers.
Sustainable development is an ongoing process in Guinea, but Guineans can count on the support of Rusal to complement their own considerable efforts.