In Western Guinea, hundreds of people in the mining towns of Sangarédi, Boké and Kamsar have jobs as commercial drivers with international mining firms and private companies thanks a $113,000 grant from the U.S. African Development Foundation.
The U.S. foundation partnered with Guinea Alumina Corp. to promote the creation, growth and expansion of small and medium-sized local companies, according to a report in AllAfrica.
Guinea has half the world’s supply of bauxite – the main source of aluminum – but is one of the world’s poorest countries, with an estimated 47 percent of its population living on less than $1 per day, according to a 2011 report in ThinkAfricaPress.
Since 2008, Auto École AMSY – a driving school in Guinea offering in-classroom and practical training – has trained 5,000-plus drivers as a result of the grant, AllAfrica reports.
Guinean drivers in the program meet international mining company standards in jobs that would previously have been filled by foreign drivers, the U.S. foundation said in the report.
With the grant, AMSY built a new training center in Boké. The school used working capital and technical assistance to train driving instructors, employ a professional manager and upgrade its financial and accounting systems, operating manuals, and health and safety policies.
Over the five years of the driving school project, AMSY trained and certified more than 5,000 Guineans to operate vehicles for commercial passengers, light industry and heavy mining. More than 300 drivers secured employment with mining companies, and others found work with other private businesses.
Recently, the mining company Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée, which operates more than an hour’s drive from the training center, had AMSY train 750 drivers and managers on defensive driving and safety, covering subjects from road signs to vehicle loads to driving at night, under adverse weather conditions and on degraded roadways.
The foundation’s active $400,000 portfolio in Guinea, co-funded by Guinea Alumina, focuses on skills training and jobs initiatives for youth and for women involved in market gardens and palm oil, sea salt and soap manufacturing.