NEW YEAR'S LETTER 2024 FROM AMBASSADOR FITRELL TO COLONEL DOUMBOUYA
Conakry, January 11, 2024
Dear President Doumbouya and the Esteemed People of Guinea,
The sun has set on another year and ended on a somber note. The catastrophic fire at the central hydrocarbon depot in Kaloum was a significant blow but it allowed us to demonstrate our solidarity with Guinea through an immediate donation of $100,000 U.S. dollars to support 4,000 Guineans, 1,000 of whom had lost their homes. It is with a profound sense of partnership that I reflect upon this and other collaborative strides made by the United States and Guinea in 2023. This letter serves as a testament to our enduring commitment and highlights the concrete achievements of our bilateral cooperation.
The Unwavering Commitment of the United States to Guinea
The U.S. government’s investment in Guinea remains unwavering and the significant contributions and targeted initiatives through such agencies as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Defense, Department of State, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Peace Corps, and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) mark the multifaceted cooperation between our nations. Our shared initiatives, totaling more than $53 million in assistance to the people of Guinea, have yielded substantial advancements in the realms of health, security, economic growth, and governance, all of which contribute to a resilient and vibrant Guinea.
2023 Highlights: The United States Government
– In health, our seasonal malaria chemoprevention initiative protected 350,000 children in seven prefectures, and we enhanced laboratory capacities for infectious disease testing and response. We worked alongside Guineans to investigate several disease outbreaks across Guinea, including measles, pertussis, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, and dengue fever to control these outbreaks and to vaccinate children.
– In security, we assisted Guinea in the maritime spill investigations and enhanced port, maritime, and border security with biometric technology and intelligence assistance.
– In democracy and governance, we empowered civil society, bolstered media competence, and fostered transparent political processes, culminating in the launch of a new program to support legal and electoral reforms.
– In cultural outreach and exchange, we implemented impactful exchange experiences for Guineans to participate in professional development and leadership programs and pursue graduate study in the United States.
– We issued more than 2,500 visas, an issuance increase of more than 100 percent from last year, including one for you as the President and for your associated Ministers to attend the 78th United Nations General Assembly, underscoring the strong governmental ties between our two nations.
Our health initiatives in Guinea have been pivotal in strengthening the healthcare infrastructure, enabling a rapid response to disease outbreaks, enhancing public health resilience, and bolstering HIV/AIDS prevention efforts. The United States invested more than $37 million to support improved health outcomes in Guinea. Key achievements in this sector include:
- Advanced HIV/AIDS Prevention and Testing: Significant progress was made in advancing HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and testing training, particularly in Conakry, Kindia, Kankan, and Labé. This initiative was complemented by enhancing the capacity of eight public health and four veterinary laboratories, enabling them to efficiently test for infectious diseases, respond to outbreaks, and address antibiotic misuse through proper testing.
- Research and Studies in Major Diseases: We embarked on a measles study and continued our existing malaria and COVID-19 studies. These research initiatives are crucial in understanding and combating these prevalent diseases in Guinea. We organized a pilot training program in N’zérékoré to combat Lassa fever, which is a vital part of our strategy to control and prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases. We also organized a seminar series by experts from Massachusetts General Hospital on modern approaches to treating brain disorders.
- Global Health Security Initiatives: We strengthened our ongoing efforts in global health security, including wastewater surveillance for COVID-19, antimicrobial resistance, and other pathogens. This innovative approach is key to monitoring and responding to public health threats. We have also made recommendations to include Hepatitis B in the upcoming Demographic and Health Survey, underscoring our commitment to comprehensive public health surveillance and prevention.
Economic Empowerment and Growth
Our economic collaboration has been robust, with U.S. companies making headway across sectors such as mining, agriculture, energy, and telecommunications. This partnership not only underscores confidence in Guinea’s economic potential but also paves the way for sustainable development and prosperity.
- Support to World Food Program: The U.S. Government granted $6.5 million to the World Food Program, providing nutritious meals to more than100,000 children and members of nutritionally vulnerable populations. This project also increased productivity and access to markets for local farmers, accelerating economic growth through direct engagement with private sector partners.
- Investment in Commercial Opportunities: The U.S. promoted Guinea’s vast commercial opportunities to more than 50 U.S. companies, citizens, and investors to initiate or expand their operations in Guinea. Notable investments include West Africa LNG’s $300 million investment agreement to build an LNG terminal in Kamsar, Water Life Systems’ eco-industrial park development in Dubreka, Cisco’s collaboration to support Guinea’s network infrastructure, and Wabtec’s proposals for the TransGuinean Company’s Simandou railway infrastructure.
- American Chamber of Commerce: The United States is fostering the establishment of an American Chamber of Commerce to highlight business opportunities in Guinea and to advance the overall commercial environment in Guinea through advocacy, information, networking, and business support services.
Security initiatives have been multifaceted this year, from assisting in maritime spill investigations to bolstering port and maritime security. We’ve provided intelligence support to dismantle narcotics trafficking attempts and supplied additional biometric scanners to fortify border security, all while planning extensive capacity-building programs for the future. These initiatives are a testament to the ongoing commitment of the United States to support Guinea in its efforts to maintain and enhance security, uphold law and order, and ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens.
- Development of Police Training Infrastructure: In collaboration with the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), we launched a comprehensive 24-month training program to strengthen the capabilities of the Guinean police force. We also made significant progress in building an international standard shooting range at the National Police Academy in Boffa to provide international standard instruction and certification in weapons usage and safety, enhancing the skills and capabilities of law enforcement officers in Guinea.
- Law Enforcement Capacity Training: Our capacity building law enforcement program trained 200 officers in Conakry, Kindia, Kankan, and N’zérékoré to improve the police’s capacity to manage peaceful demonstrations, especially in the context of upcoming elections, while adhering to national human rights standards.
- Professionalization of Law Enforcement: We have also invested in the professional development of the police force by funding an embedded American specialized police instructor. This instructor trains police officers to increase their professional standards and practices within the Guinean law enforcement community, ensuring they are in line with international norms and standards.
- Combatting Narcotrafficking: Working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), we helped authorities better understand the emergence of the “Kush” drug. As a result of our information and intelligence sharing, Guinean authorities seized cocaine at Conakry’s international airport and received advanced notice of ships traveling through Guinea’s coastal waters transporting narcotics.
- Countering Hizballah’s finances initiative: This year we nominated a Guinean law enforcement delegation to attend the 10th annual Law Enforcement Coordination Group that focused on Hizballah’s attention to West Africa due to a permissive environment for its operatives to blend in and evade detection. The delegation received briefings from the Department of State, Justice, and the Treasury, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) on how to identify and disrupt Hizballah’s financial networks in West Africa.
Cultural and Educational Exchanges
In 2023, the U.S. Embassy in Guinea engaged in various initiatives aimed at public engagement, exchanges, journalism, and cultural programming. These engagements reflect the U.S. Embassy’s commitment to fostering strong cultural, educational, and professional ties between the United States and Guinea.
- American Spaces Expansion and Programming: The Embassy opened two additional American Spaces in N’zérékoré and Mamou and more than 10,000 Guineans participated in in-person programming. These spaces provide access to state-of-the-art technology, quality English language instruction, a vast collection of reading materials, and advice on studying in the United States.
- Press and Media Engagement: The trained more than 100 Guinean journalists in digital investigation and media literacy. Our programs included interactions with experts in law, human rights, and communications. We also supported community radio programming in N’zérékoré and a new all-women radio station in Conakry.
- Cultural Exchange and Capacity-building Initiatives: We supported 75 women paralegals in Kankan fighting against rape and harmful practices, outreach against female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage, training for women in entrepreneurship, support for street children, and English language instruction. We also provided equipment to the Guinean art school (Institut Supérieur des Arts Mory Kanté) in Dubreka, and invited an expert filmmaker to train young people in Conakry, Kankan, Mamou, and N’zérékoré.
Democratic Resilience and Governance
In the realm of governance, U.S. efforts have fostered a conducive environment for democratic processes and human rights with our new program. Our programs have facilitated civil society engagement, enhanced the media’s capacity for accurate reporting, and supported electoral reforms. We helped draft and review crucial governance documents, including the electoral law, the electoral management body law, the political parties’ law, and the potential constitution, including the referendum law. We supported the training of 30 youths in soft skills/life skills through various programs and facilitated 10 consensus-building fora. We empowered more than 248 women through training, tools, and grants to support the inclusion of women in peace-building mechanisms and decision making.
Sustainable Development and Environmental Stewardship
The Forest Region has seen transformative environmental stewardship through U.S. support. Our interventions have been pivotal in reforesting nearly 40 percent of the Bossou Chimpanzee Corridor, showcasing our commitment to biodiversity. The project’s creation of fire brigades, integration of agroforestry, and the empowerment of women have increased ecological benefits, social cohesion, and economic empowerment.
Fostering the Future
The U.S. Embassy in Conakry has been proud to strengthen ties to the Guinean people through cultural diplomacy. In 2023, we engaged with the elders of Timbo regarding the shared history of Abd al Rahman Ibrahima, the Timbo Prince and former slave in Mississippi. Following our own meeting with the High Council of Timbo Elders in Timbo, we facilitated a visit of the High Council to the United States, to commemorate “Prince Ibrahima Day” in Natchez, Mississippi and to visit the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C. to discuss the role of the Department in the successful effort to free the Prince. These efforts not only enhance the U.S.-Guinea relationship but also deepen the American public’s understanding of their own history and the value of U.S. foreign policy in fostering global cultural ties.
The endeavors undertaken in 2023 stand as a testament to the remarkable resilience and aspirations of the Guinean people. Our role as the United States has been to support and empower these aspirations, respecting Guinea’s unique path towards its self-defined goals of peace, development, and prosperity. This collaboration reflects a partnership built on mutual respect and a shared vision for the future, where Guinea’s sovereignty in shaping its own destiny is paramount. Our collective efforts reinforce the strengths and capabilities inherent within Guinea and its people.
As we turn the page to 2024, the United States renews its pledge to stand shoulder to shoulder with Guinea, ready to face the challenges ahead with solidarity and unwavering support. Our commitment is towards a continuum of progress that not only preserves the environmental riches of Guinea but also empowers its people through enhanced livelihoods and a robust, inclusive economy. In doing so, we are guided by the aspirations and goals set forth by Guineans themselves. Our role is to assist and bolster Guinea on the path that its people have chosen, ensuring that the future unfolding is one that resonates with their collective vision and values.
With warm regards and best wishes for the New Year,
United States Ambassador