Driving Sustainable Economic Growth in Guinea-Bissau

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Despite having vast energy resources, Guinea-Bissau has one of the least developed economies in the world. Due to the west African country’s slow progress regarding the exploitation of its energy resources, due to limited investments in infrastructure development and political instability, little progress has also been made in expanding other sectors such as manufacturing and mining. However, recent increases in capital expenditure are set to revitalize the economy during 2022. In addition, for the near-term, addressing corruption and boosting infrastructure rollout will enable Guinea-Bissau to grow its economy by 3.9% in 2022 and ensure that inflation remains stable at 1.9%, according to development finance institution, the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Energy Developments Spur Economic Growth

The energy sector could provide Guinea-Bissau with a revenue stream for sustained economic growth. To better capitalize, the government needs to establish a capital-attractive regime and introduce new exploration and production licenses for the oil and gas industry. This would improve investor confidence and increase the participation of global energy companies who would serve to monetize the west African country’s energy resources while creating local jobs. Currently, on the renewable energy front, Guinea-Bissau has various projects in the pipeline that contribute to a positive financial outlook for 2022. The projects are in line with improved electrification targets, having already progressed from 6% in 2010 to 31% in 2019. With energy being the backbone of economic growth, projects such as the 20 MW, $32.75 million Bissau Solar PV Park 1 and the $50 million Solar Energy Scale-Up and Access Project, will enable Guinea-Bissau to achieve growth targets. In addition, the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Access Project, with funding to the tune of $338.7 million from the World Bank and partners, is set to further improve Guinea-Bissau’s economic growth outlook. Meanwhile, the AfDB’s $30 million financial package, for the purpose of agriculture, energy, water and public works projects in Guinea-Bissau, as from 2022, could also help revitalize the economy through the refurbishment of infrastructure.

Capitalizing on the Country’s Mining Potential

Guinea-Bissau is rich in bauxite, gold, diamonds and phosphate rock but lack of transparency within this sector has crippled the industry’s ability to expand. Addressing corruption within the mining sector could enable the government to enhance foreign investment and ring-fence funds to advance the sector, accelerating economic growth through mining-related job creation, infrastructure development and export earnings. By establishing transparency and accountability within the sector, opportunities emerge in the securing of grants such as the one being provided by the AfDB to six other African countries. This is as part of AfDB’s, ‘Governing Natural Resource Outflows for Enhanced Economic Resilience in Fragile and Transitional Countries’ initiative and access to a similar grant could enable Guinea-Bissau to significantly expand the country’s mining sector and drive sustainable economic growth in 2022 and beyond.

Manufacturing and Regional Trade Cooperation

Meanwhile, H.E. President Umaro Sissoco’s recent visit to Rwanda’s Special Economic Zone in March 2022 was a major step towards enhanced regional trade cooperation. Together with the Rwandan delegation, the President met with companies such as Rwandan food manufacturer, Africa Improved Foods, and vehicle manufacturer, Volkswagen, to discuss investment and manufacturing opportunities for Guinea-Bissau. By leveraging regional cooperation with some of Africa’s fastest growing economies, Guinea-Bissau could accelerate development across a variety of sectors including manufacturing, representing a key driver of economic growth. At the same time, a 2022 feasibility study for constructing a new deep-sea port in Guinea-Bissau is a testimony to the efforts of the country to boost regional trade and attract foreign investment. The development of the port will be critical in driving economic growth while positioning the country as a strategic west African trade hub.

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Nicholas Nhede

Nicholas Nhede

Nicholas is an energy sector journalist with a passion on how technology and diversification of the energy mix can be used to address energy sector challenges. Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication studies and has been covering energy-related topics including the Internet of Things, distributed energy and digitalisation since 2015.

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