Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Guinea's Dawn: Overcoming Hardmen, a Commodity Crash and Ebola

Can Guinea finally emerge from decades of military rule and poverty? Sunday's elections give the West African nation a chance to strengthen its fledgling democracy. Bloomberg reporters recently travelled around the region along Guinea's Atlantic coastline to speak to executives, Chinese investors, diplomats, officials and ordinary Guineans and to see the mines, ports and dams inspiring Guinea with new hope. Photographs by Waldo Swiegers for Bloomberg

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    The bauxite boom will be powered by the Chinese-built 240 megawatt Kaleta dam, the biggest game-changer in Guinea. It's tripled power capacity and meant many enjoy stable electricity supply for the first time in their lives.

     

    Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

  2. 2

    A gate put up by China International Water & Electric Corp. marks the entrance to the site of the Kaleta dam.

    Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

  3. 3

    Chinese workers walk along a new pier being built at a river port in Boke, which is already supplying China Hongqiao with bauxite.

    Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

  4. 4

    A line of pylons delivers power from the Kaleta dam to Conakry. Many in the capital are experiencing stable power supply for the first time.

    Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

  5. 5

    President Alpha Conde was so excited about Kaleta he built an official residence there, even though it's 160 kilometers from Conakry.

    Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

  6. 6

    Guinea's natural resources are excellent - bauxite, iron ore, diamonds and gold galore. And yet the commodity slump and Ebola epidemic have left the economy floundering, despite the introduction of a democratic government.

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    Bauxite, the ore that is refined into aluminum, is Guinea's biggest hope. Several companies have plans to build new mines, railways and ports to practically double bauxite exports. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, a venture including Rio Tinto, Alcoa and the government, is leading the charge with a $1 billion expansion plan.

    Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

  8. 8

    The bauxite is crushed into a powder and poured into a waiting ship anchored at a jetty.

     

    Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

  9. 9

    The bauxite is usually whitish in color, but appears red because of the high iron content at CBG's mine.

    Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

  10. 10

    A man watches diggers fill train carriages with bauxite at CBG's Sangaredi mine before they make the 135 kilometer journey to the port.

    Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

  11. 11

    Locals in Kamsar watch a bauxite train pass by. They told us that there's been little trickle down from Guinea's most important export.

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    The peninsula of Guinea's capital, Conakry, extends like a finger into the Atlantic Ocean. It's a sprawl of moldy and crumbling low-rises, battered cars choking up waterlogged roads and about a million people in constant motion as they try to make a living.

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    Many people Bloomberg News spoke to were happy that president Conde had succeeded in getting the army off the streets since he came in five years ago.

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    Most people make a living through informal work. Here, men sell fuel in plastic bottles to motorcyclists in the northern port town of Kamsar.

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    In the absence of jobs, most Guineans live off the fruits of their own labor, like these fishermen.

     

    Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

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    This picture captures the kind of challenges many in Conakry face every day on the main road that runs the length of Conakry's narrow peninsula. 

    Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg