For the past two weeks, the country has been grappling with the aftermath of a devastating explosion at its primary oil depot, resulting in the tragic loss of 24 lives and over 450 injuries. Beyond the humanitarian consequences, the Guinean government is now scrambling to address its fuel needs urgently, as the shortage begins to take a toll on the nation’s economy and purchasing power.
The scarcity has led to a surge in fuel prices, with ripple effects on transportation costs and subsequently on the prices of goods and basic commodities in markets, significantly impacting household purchasing power.
The gasoline demand is particularly acute, given its predominant use in the Guinean motor vehicle fleet. At gas stations, where queues continue to lengthen, gasoline distribution is now restricted to 25 liters for cars and 5 liters for motorcycles and tricycles—insufficient in a country where public transportation options remain limited.
The fuel shortage is also adversely affecting various economic sectors, notably the mining industry, a crucial source of foreign exchange for the country. Some factories, including the Société Minière de Dinguiraye (SMD), a subsidiary of the Russian gold mining company Nordgold, have already halted operations.
In a letter dated December 30, 2023, the management of SMD informed its employees of an immediate shift to technical unemployment. The company cited the complete depletion of its heavy fuel oil (HFO) stock, essential for its ongoing operations, as the rationale behind this decision.
The SMD clarified that it only has a small quantity of diesel remaining, earmarked for equipment maintenance in its plant, power supply to its facilities, and electricity provision in the residential areas accommodating its workforce. The repercussions of the oil depot explosion are not only human but also economic, with the country now grappling with a multifaceted crisis that demands swift and comprehensive intervention.