The military government of the coastal west African country of Guinea seized power in December 2008 against a tide of international condemnation.

“According to the international community, the power of this government is not constitutional – that’s why Guinea misses some investments,” says Captain Mamadou Sande, minister for finance and economy, who was temporarily suspended from the cabinet in February for reasons that remain unclear.

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And it certainly could use some inflows of private capital. “Guinea, like other African countries, is hit by the crisis,” he says. “But Guinea is a particular case.”

Mining dependence

The Guinean economy depends largely on agriculture and mining (it is the world’s largest exporter of bauxite). Revenues from agricultural products as well as energy prices have plummeted because of the economic downturn, with a hugely harmful knock-on effect on the annual income of the already-poor country. “If there is a lack of investments in developing countries, it is catastrophic. Guinea is hard hit by the financial crisis, and even if this crisis didn’t come from Africa, we feel the impacts.”

Crime problems

The new government has had worries even more pressing than the economic ones, Mr Sande says, and as a first order of business had to grapple with the country’s narcotics and crime problems. Now, attention turns to keeping the economy afloat.

“For the mining industry we are going through all the contracts that have been established with the investors in order for Guinea to benefit from the revenue of this sector,” he says. “We are also running after the multilateral institutions and using our bilateral relations and the services of the EU, which is the top investor in Guinea. We have been to Europe recently and the visit was successful. We will have to increase our partnerships to face the crisis.”