Archive for November, 2006

Wall Street Journal ties Guinea’s troubles to energy costs

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

Interesting article that makes the case that rising energy costs hurts the “upwardly mobile poor” of the world the most, and uses Guinea as a case study.

Interesting excerpts from the article

“Guinea’s experience shows how destabilizing an energy shock can be. The country’s economic woes go far beyond rising pump prices, but the government’s decision to reduce gasoline subsidies over the past two years helped spark general strikes and riots that claimed at least 11 lives. …

Government officials say pressure from the oil companies forced their hand, and they started raising pump prices. By early last year, official pump prices at Total and Shell filling stations had risen 66% to about $3.70 a gallon in local currency terms. With monthly salaries averaging less than $200, even senior civil servants struggled to afford their daily commutes.

As oil prices kept climbing and the revalued currency sank, the big increase in pump prices wasn’t enough to ease the fiscal crunch. So, through 2005 and 2006, gasoline prices were raised four more times. For days after the sharpest increases, the rusted-out taxis and minibuses that clog Conakry’s pot-holed streets would thin out.

…pump prices are 233% higher than they were in August 2004, in local currency terms. ”

I encourage you to access the entire article on, but it requires a subscription to There is a free video on-line, which instead of providing the interesting details in the article, is simply a subset of the typical images we see of Africa — war, disease, hunger, and poverty.  I recommend the article but not the video.

On the Home Front – Peace Corps material for families and friends

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

This is an excellent resource for my friends and family who want to know what I’ll be going through while I’m in the Peace Corps.

On the Home Front:A Handbook for Families of Volunteers (PDF)

Guinea – School enrollment plummets as cost of living rises

Saturday, November 11th, 2006


“In each school, enrollment was down from the previous year, sometimes by more than half… With runaway inflation, many parents have found it hard enough to feed their children. The cost of a sack of rice in Conakry has nearly doubled from the year before and in remote areas it has tripled. Wages, on the other hand, have not kept pace.”


Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

How long is the Peace Corps service?
Training is 3 months; after that, a 2 year commitment is expected.

Do you speak the languages used in Guinea?
I’ve been taking French for one year at the college level. The other languages I need will depend on where in Guinea I end up.

What are you doing there?
I will be a Small Enterprise Development advisor. Here is the description of Small Enterprise Development from the Peace Corps description of Guinea:
Volunteers work as small enterprise development advisors in medium to large communities. Their work is aimed at empowering youth and small-scale entrepreneurs (especially women) by strengthening their business management skills. Volunteers conduct business management and entrepreneurship training, create and strengthen market linkages, and establish basic accounting systems.

Where in Guinea will you be?
I don’t know yet. I will find out some time during training. I don’t know if it will be near the ocean,or north or south. I probably won’t be in a small village.

BBC Country Profile on Guinea

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

image from BBC of market

Ruled by strong-arm leaders since independence, Guinea has been seen as a bulwark against instability in neighbouring Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. However it has also been implicated in the conflicts that have ravaged the region.”