Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Embassy Conakry does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED CONAKRY AS BEING A HIGH-CRIME THREAT AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Please review OSAC’s Guinea-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
Below is a sampling of recent criminal activity in Guinea:
- In January 2017, an unknown male, while fleeing from the authorities and looking for an escape route, entered an American’s vehicle sitting in traffic. The American failed to lock the vehicle’s doors. The police forcefully removed the male from the vehicle.
- In December 2016, two Americans traveled to Guinea after investing over U.S.$20,000 into what they thought was a legitimate diamond purchasing operation. The operation was fraudulent, and the duo discovered the fraud when they could not contact their counterparts after arriving in Guinea. Diamond and gold scams are common.
- In July 2016, three individuals threw at 10-pound boulder at a U.S. citizen driver and stole belongings from the car. The perpetrators were not captured.
- From July-October 2015, three attempted and two actual residential break-ins were reported to the Embassy. Although most occurred without the knowledge of the resident, none of the perpetrators were caught. The incidents were non-violent, but assailants were not deterred by walls, razor wire, guard presence, or barred windows. Residences should have strong security features, 24-hour security guard presence, be well-illuminated, feature heavy duty locks on exterior doors/windows, and secure parking to protect vehicles from theft.
In December 2016, Embassy locally employed staff reported receiving suspicious phone calls, in which they were asked to verify their employment to receive notification that they had won an award of Guinean Francs or electronics. Further, staff were told to keep credits in their cell phone credit account and to provide the account number to the caller to receive their award. After providing their account numbers, all available credits in the accounts were withdrawn.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Road conditions in Conakry are generally poor. While many roadways are paved, many have immense potholes or are dilapidated. Some roads can only be traveled by foot or motorbikes.
Drivers are inattentive, often on a cell phone and with numerous passengers. Turn signals are used infrequently, and a majority of vehicles have poor brakes and non-functioning headlights. Local hand signals, which do not correspond to typical U.S. recognized hand signals, are often used.
Horns should be considered a means of communication. They are used frequently and ignored by other drivers just as often. Drivers will honk flash their high-beams as they approach intersections to warn oncoming traffic of their entry to an intersection. There is no standard for which direction of travel has the right of way; every intersection should be treated as unique, and drivers should plan to stop or slow to ensure the road is clear before entering an intersection. Traffic circles exist, particularly in Conakry, and are often the cause of congestion. Generally, vehicles in the circle do not have the right-of-way. Drivers should use caution while entering/exiting circles and abide by the flow of traffic. Drivers should expect cars to exit the circle from the innermost lane or to continue through the circle from the outermost lane. Visitors should always check their mirrors before turning to ensure no motorbikes have come up into their blind spot since they stopped. In fact, a flash of high-beams or head lights by an oncoming vehicle could mean:
1) the oncoming car is asking you to stop and allow them to cross in front of you, or
2) the oncoming car is indicating that you can cross in front of them.
Use of flashers or a hand out the window flapping in a downward motion from a slowing or stopped vehicle is an indication that pedestrians are crossing or a vehicle is crossing in front of the stopped car. This is often done to indicate to motorbikes (who often split the lanes) to stop as well.
Drivers involved in an accident are advised to wait at the scene if it is safe. If possible, maintain the vehicles in the same position to facilitate accident reporting. Expect pedestrians, passing motorbikes, and drivers to stop and intervene. Do not admit fault. The Embassy instructs official Americans to leave the scene and proceed directly to the Embassy or another haven (police station, hotels, large facilitates with security and lighting) if they feel threatened – individuals should not return home if they are being followed.
The Embassy recommends that travelers leaving Conakry by road plan their schedules to be at their destination by dark and not to start travel until sunrise. Road conditions, broken down vehicles, and a lack of road signs make safe driving and navigation nearly impossible. Travelers should obtain phone numbers with local authorities for their destination and transit cities along their route, in the event of serious security issues.
Public Transportation Conditions
Public taxis should be considered unsafe. Drivers may be unlicensed, be distracted by driving and searching for fares, stop suddenly in the road, and use a series of hand signals to indicate their general direction or destination. Vehicle conditions of public taxis are extremely unsafe, with very few taxis having working brakes or head/reverse lights, and many are missing side/rear view mirrors (or mirrors and turn-indicators are not used). Taxis may be driven with tires in very poor condition (flat, bald, or mismatching in size). Passengers should expect to ride with as many other people as can fit, with passengers sitting on the laps of others. Seatbelts are rarely used, and a driver’s helper may sit on the back of the trunk or on the running boards. If visitors must take a public taxi, they should attempt to secure a dedicated taxi at a higher rate that does not pick up other passengers.
Motorbike taxis are an equally risky means of transportation. Motorbikes often split lanes, pass on the right side of vehicles preparing to turn right (and vice versa on the left), cut into/out of stopped/slowed traffic, and regularly scrape passing cars in tight traffic jams. Helmets are sometimes used by drivers but are rarely available for passengers. It is not uncommon to see two or more passengers, including children, on a single motorbike along with the driver.
Visitors should arrange with hotels or trusted companies for private drivers or vehicle rentals. Visitors should insist on seeing proof of insurance and licenses for chauffeurs. It is uncommon to be allowed to rent a vehicle without a chauffeur. Passengers should speak up to drivers engaging in unsafe behavior and report the behavior to the rental company or vehicle owner.
Travelers should be prepared to pass through immigration and be subjected to fingerprints/photographing upon entry. Following Immigration Control, travelers enter the baggage area. Aggressive airport porters try to assist travelers with bags by getting luggage carts. Visitors should keep a close eye on their carry-on items while searching for their checked baggage. Travelers are advised to maintain their checked baggage claim tags. Airport staff will present orange ID cards on request (if not openly visible). Travelers who accept assistance from workers should expect to pay a small tip for their assistance.
Visitors should have a ride arranged in advance by a known party and have phone numbers available to contact their host. SIM cards and credit scratch off cards are available for purchase as individuals leave the secure part of the airport.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED CONAKRY AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
Terrorism and active shooter events in Mali and Cote d’Ivoire have brought a spotlight to the porous borders of West Africa. Land border controls are overwhelmed and only in specific locations, yet between countries there are many locations to cross borders without passing through areas controlled by authorities.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED CONAKRY AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Protests are common, especially in Conakry. With numerous political opposition parties and special interest groups, some form of protest occurs once a month, on average. Most protests are non-violent with oversight by security forces. Planned and approved protests/marches often remain peaceful. However, crowds tend to be slow to disperse, resulting in congested traffic at a minimum. It is not uncommon for gathered youth to throw stones at passing vehicles. Less common, but still not rare, drivers may encounter burning tires to block streets.
Security forces are generally quick to respond. Police often discharge firearms in the air to disperse the crowd. There have been incidents where bystanders have been hit by fallen rounds, incurring serious injury/death. Drivers should turn around and avoid areas of potential conflict. Indicators are large groups, debris in the road way, many drivers going the wrong way down a road indicating with hand signals to turn, or seeing trucks of gendarme.
The Palais du Peuple is a common starting/ending point for organized protests and marches. Protestors may gather near the relevant ministry building in Kaloum. However, the most problematic areas are Bambetto traffic circle, at the intersection of Rue le Prince and Transversale 2 (T-2) in Kipe, and the Hamdallaye traffic circle, located at the Cosah intersection of Rue le Prince and T-3, near Miniere.
Political and ethnic affiliations are often split along the same lines, making almost every political opposition rally an ethnic one. Politics are usually the identifiable reason for any type of unrest; however, ethnic homogeny cannot be ignored.
Conakry experiences severe rains during the rainy season (May-November). While the roadways drain quickly, vehicles can be swept away by flooded roads. Potholes are unidentifiable, which worsen notably during the rainy season, leading many vehicles to fail.
During the dry season, it is not uncommon for Guineans to burn trash as a means of disposal.
There are modern hotels in Conakry that most visitors would find comfortable and are considered four stars. All modern hotels have back-up generators, hotel security, and screening for vehicles and customers, as well as restaurants.
Access to constant reliable electricity, while improving countrywide, is unstable, with voltage surges and frequent power outages. All modern facilities and most businesses have backup generators.
Guinea is primarily a cash-based economy. Visitors should bring U.S. dollars to exchange. Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, including at major hotel chains, large grocery stores, and some restaurants. Some ATMs exist, but there is no guarantee they will work with U.S. bank cards. Credit card users should closely monitor their accounts for fraud and keep their card in their sight during all transactions.
The largest bill is the 20,000 GNF, introduced in 2015. Travelers will have to carry or store large stacks of cash due to the exchange rate. No business will accept a pre-2015 series 5,000 GNF bill as of January 1, 2017. Black market money exchanges are common and should be avoided. Banks and hotels can generally be trusted places to exchange money, with normal rates.
Security forces in Conakry are split between the gendarmerie and the National Police. Police are responsible for traffic and accident investigation, while the gendarmes serve an investigatory and close protection role, including response to civil unrest. Gendarmes can be found in any manner of military uniform; do not expect matching uniforms. The gendarme teams responding to protest activity are often uniformed similarly, in dark blue or black. Police are found in all black uniforms or dark blue pants and light blue shirts.
It is not unusual to see checkpoints staffed by police/gendarmes.
- During the day, police charged with traffic control, usually at the main traffic circles and intersections, will also use their position to pull over drivers. It is not uncommon to be accused of violating an obscure/fake law by officers, who expect a small bribe.
- Checkpoints at night are often manned by gendarmes and are set up around 2200. Drivers should expect the same behavior.
All drivers should carry copies of their license, government-issued identification, and other needed documents to provide to police. Originals are not preferable in case officers do not return the documents or seek a bribe for the items to be returned.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
Contact ACS at the U.S. Embassy at +224-655-104-334
Crime Victim Assistance
Direction Generale de la Police Nationale (DGPN): +224-628-32-70-75
Embassy Contact Numbers:
Main Telephone Number: +224 65 510 4000
Duty Officer Cell Phone: +224 65 710 4311
Post One: +224 65 510 4444
Medical care is substandard, including in Conakry. Hospital accommodations are inadequate, and advanced technology is lacking. Shortages of routine medications and supplies may be encountered. For more information, please refer to OSAC’s Report, “Traveling with Medications.” For a private ambulance in Conakry, call Clinic Ambroise Paré at [+224] 664-01-01 or [+224] 664-02-02. Immediate cash payment may be expected for medical care. Because this is primarily a cash economy, credit cards may not be accepted for medical care.
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
Ambroise Paré Hospital emergency and ambulance services: +224 664-01-01 or +224 664-02-02.
Sino-Guinean Hospital emergency and ambulance services: +224-621-08-88-62
Carry vehicle insurance.
Carry medical and medevac insurance. Adequate evacuation coverage for all travelers is a high priority. In the event of a serious medical condition, medical evacuation to Western Europe is likely to be necessary.
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
All travelers should have a yellow card, showing proof of yellow fever immunization.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Guinea.
OSAC Country Council Information
Please contact OSAC’s Africa team if you would like to be put in touch with the RSO.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
U.S. Embassy Address and Hours of Operation
Transversale #2, Ratoma, Conakry, Guinea
Hours of Operation: Mon-Thurs 0730-1630, Fri 0730-1330
Embassy Contact Numbers
Main Telephone Number: +224 65 510 4000
Duty Officer Cell Phone: +224 65 710 4311
Post One: +224 65 510 4444
RSO +224 65 510 4377
ARSO +224 65 510 4023
Travelers must secure visas prior to arrival.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy disseminate information about safety conditions and contact travelers in an emergency.
Guinea Country Information Sheet