Viewing cable 09CONAKRY210
Title: POLITICAL PARTY LEADER PEDDLES UTOPIAN VISION FOR

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09CONAKRY2102009-04-09 16:29:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Conakry
VZCZCXRO3935
PP RUEHPA
DE RUEHRY #0210/01 0991629
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091629Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY CONAKRY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3604
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CONAKRY 000210 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/08/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM ASEC GV
SUBJECT: POLITICAL PARTY LEADER PEDDLES UTOPIAN VISION FOR 
GUINEA 
 
Classified By: A/DCM SHANNON CAZEAU FOR REASON 1.4 B AND D 
 
¶1.  (C) SUMMARY.  An emerging Guinean politician, Amcit Abe 
Sylla, is peddling a utopian vision of economic progress for 
the country.  He claims that he can turn Guinea around in 
five years, and have it sitting at the table with the G7 in 
twenty as a donor nation.  Although his economic reasoning is 
likely sound, Sylla does not seem to have a good grasp of 
Guinea's political realities.  At the same time, his name 
continues to come up in discussions with various contacts, 
suggesting that he is finding some political traction.  If he 
is peddling these concepts to the CNDD, they may very well be 
buying into some or all of Sylla's vision.  END SUMMARY. 
 
¶2.  (C) Since the December 23 coup d'etat, Abe Sylla (Amcit) 
has been increasingly active in Guinea's political arena. 
Pol/Econ Chief met with Sylla on April 7 to discuss his new 
political party, the New Generation for the Republic (NGR), 
as well as his vision for the country. 
 
--------- 
BIO NOTES 
--------- 
 
¶3.  (C) Abe Sylla is a naturalized U.S. citizen who has lived 
in the United States for more than 40 years.  He was born in 
1951 in Kindia, Guinea where he spent his childhood.  After 
immigrating to the United States, he earned a Bachelor's and 
Master's degree in electrical engineering at the University 
of Maryland.  He is married and has two adult daughters. 
 
¶4.  (C) Sylla is believed to hold considerable personal as 
well as business wealth.  His company, AIS Engineering, 
specializes in telecommunications and information technology, 
and has provided services to the U.S. Government, including 
the Departments of Defense and State.  On the company 
website, AIS states that it holds contracts to provide 
diplomatic communication services to a number of U.S. 
Embassies.  The company also handles the ECOWAS 
communications network (ERIES).  A review of open source 
materials indicates that Sylla contributed $1,500 to 
President Obama's campaign fund and another $2,000 to 
Congressman Wynn's campaign fund in 2008.  In 2004, he 
contributed a total of $1,410 to the Republican party. 
 
--------------------- 
TURNING GUINEA AROUND 
--------------------- 
 
¶5.  (C) Abe Sylla told Pol/Econ Chief that he decided to 
enter the Guinean political arena because he believes that he 
can "turn the country around."  He explained how he knows 
first-hand what Guinea looked like before independence, and 
how much the country's economic situation has subsequently 
deteriorated over the last fifty years.  However, Sylla feels 
that Guinea's current political leaders are ill equipped to 
address the challenges ahead.  "They all have good ideas and 
good intentions, but no real solutions."  According to Sylla, 
his personal success in the business world has provided him 
with the experience needed to run a country, and to provide 
the solutions that are so desperately needed. 
 
----------------------- 
SEND IN THE REPAIR TEAM 
----------------------- 
 
¶6.  (C) When asked about his new political party, the NGR, 
Sylla explained that it is really much more than a political 
party.  "We are a team of professionals, such as teachers, 
engineers, and lawyers, who want to come in to Guinea and fix 
its problems...we can train these young kids how to govern, 
establish rule of law, and then turn it over to a new 
generation of leadership...they just need help," Sylla said. 
He clarified that this team of experts is comprised primarily 
of members of the Guinean Diaspora living in the United 
States and Europe. 
 
---------------- 
A UTOPIAN VISION 
---------------- 
 
¶7.  (C) Sylla claimed that he could "turn Guinea around" in 
just five years, making it the industrial equivalent to "at 
least Belgium."  He then outlined a vision for achieving this 
goal, which focuses primarily on developing the country's 
hydroelectric potential.  "Water is the key...if we can just 
harness that energy, we can eradicate poverty."  Sylla said 
that with such development, Guinea would have an excess 
supply of electricity that it could then export throughout 
 
CONAKRY 00000210  002 OF 003 
 
 
the region.  Once Guinea reaches that level of production, 
Sylla said he could move into the second and third phases of 
his plan. 
 
¶8.  (C) For the second phase, Guinea could begin to use its 
newfound hydroelectric surplus to process the bauxite 
reserves that are currently exported elsewhere for costly 
processing.  The third phase would involve using "water 
wealth" to transform the agricultural sector, making Guinea a 
net exporter of rice.  Sylla's final phase, or "wheel" as he 
termed it, would be the tourism industry, which he claimed 
would grow exponentially due to the thousands of expatriates 
who would be living in Guinea as a result of the success of 
the first three phases. 
 
¶9.  (C) When the discussion turned to an implementation 
strategy, Sylla said he would probably need to use foreign 
labor, "maybe Thais, Filipinos, or Chinese," for the first 
five to ten years since Guineans currently lack the necessary 
skill sets.  However, Sylla said that the success of the 
project would enable the government to start investing 
heavily in the education sector in order to develop the 
country's labor capacity. 
 
------------------------------ 
EARNING A SEAT AT THE G7 TABLE 
------------------------------ 
 
¶10.  (C) At this point, Sylla went on at length about revenue 
projections, although his reasoning as to how he came up with 
these figures was unclear.  He estimated that in five to ten 
years, Guinea would be generating more than $10 billion in 
annual revenues through the power, mining, agricultural, and 
tourism sectors.  Of this $10 billion, Sylla claimed that the 
government would really only need $4 billion to provide for 
the needs of its citizens, leaving $6 billion that could then 
be invested in the world market.  Based on this model, Sylla 
said that "Guinea will be sitting at the table with the G7 in 
twenty years because it will have become a donor country." 
 
----------------- 
CANDIDACY UNCLEAR 
----------------- 
 
¶11.  (C) In response to a question as to why a naturalized 
American citizen would want to get involved in Guinean 
politics, Sylla said that he had already done everything in 
his life and was looking for a challenge.  He emphasized that 
he doesn't need any more money and that Guinea really does 
need help.  However, Sylla acknowledged "I don't even know 
this country, I don't know what the hell I'm getting myself 
into." 
 
¶12.  (C) Pol/Econ Chief asked if Sylla had declared his 
candidacy for president, to which Sylla replied that he had 
not.  When asked if he planned to declare, he said "we are 
working out the details." 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
CLEAN OUT THE GOVERNMENT AND THEN START OVER 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
¶13.  (C) In response to Sylla's outlined political/economic 
vision, Pol/Econ Chief commented that some critics might find 
his proposal too optimistic.  Sylla agreed, but said that 
"someone has to have a vision."  He acknowledged that the 
proposal might seem utopian, but he was convinced that it was 
doable.  Pol/Econ Chief also raised questions about how his 
plan would get around the persistent corruption that has 
crippled development for decades.  Sylla said that the only 
way to move forward is to establish rule of law, good 
governance, and strong democratic institutions.  In order to 
achieve these objectives, Sylla said that the only solution 
is to "double the salary of every government employee, thank 
them for their service, and ask them to stay home...I would 
do that and then bring in my own team to run the government." 
 
--------------------------- 
DADIS IS JUST MISUNDERSTOOD 
--------------------------- 
 
¶14.  (C) On the question of CNDD President Moussa Dadis 
Camara, Sylla said "he is a good kid, but perhaps misguided." 
 He said that although Dadis is not really solving any of the 
country's problems, he is popular because he is tackling 
issues that resonate with the population.  When asked if he 
had personally met with Dadis, Sylla said that Dadis had 
requested a meeting but that Sylla had refused to go to Camp 
Alpha Yaya.  "If he wants to meet with me, I told him that he 
 
CONAKRY 00000210  003 OF 003 
 
 
needs to come to my office,"  Sylla said. 
 
¶15.  (C) Sylla then heaped criticism on Guinean civil society 
and the international community, including the United States 
Government.  He said "Dadis wants to leave, but no one is 
listening to him...he got up on national television and said 
he was willing to step down in three months, but no one paid 
him any attention."  When Pol/Econ Chief asked Sylla how he 
thought the international community should have reacted to 
this statement, Sylla said "you should have said okay, 
offered him and his family political amnesty, and then helped 
him to find a position elsewhere, like in an NGO or a private 
company."  Pol/Econ Chief explained current USG policy toward 
Guinea at length, and in particular, our zero tolerance for a 
military regime and the individuals responsible for 
perpetuating it. 
 
¶16.  (C) Before leaving, Sylla said that he completely 
understood the USG position.  "Don't forget, I am Dadis' 
opposition...I want him to go just as much as everyone else," 
he said. 
 
¶17.  (SBU) As Pol/Econ Chief was escorting Sylla out of the 
building, a member of the Embassy's contract guard force 
stopped Sylla and asked him for his business card, saying 
"Please sir, I would like to join your party." 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
¶18.  (C) Sylla's utopian vision of how to move Guinea forward 
suggests that he does not have a solid understanding of the 
country's complex political dynamic.  Although he is probably 
right about Guinea's economic potential, it will take a lot 
more than a "team of experts" to reverse the country's 
decades of mismanagement and graft.  Pol/Econ Chief pointed 
out Guineans' traditional skepticism towards members of the 
Diaspora who return years later, an issue that Sylla quickly 
dismissed as being irrelevant.  As unrealistic as his vision 
might be, it is important nonetheless because the CNDD may 
very well be hearing the same pitch, and possibly buying into 
parts if not all of it.  Sylla may not have met with Dadis, 
but his name and that of his party's have been increasingly 
visible within CNDD circles over the past few months. 
Sylla's connections are still unclear, but he is emerging as 
a player of note.  END COMMENT. 
RASPOLIC