On Thursday, 3 May 2018, Guinean President Alpha Conde said he would file a complaint in Paris over allegations raised in the graft case involving one of France’s most audacious industrialists and billionaire Vincent Bollore. This comes over a week after Bollore was arrested and probed for suspected corruption practices in Africa.
“I am going to file a complaint for slanderous denunciation, and we have all the evidence proving that I did nothing except defend the interests of Guinea,” Conde said in a brief telephone interview with Reuters.
Bollore’s Africa business interests are under investigation over the billing for work carried out in Guinea and Togo between 2009 and 2010 by its communications business Havas Worldwide. It is alleged that Havas Worldwide worked for Guinean President Alpha Conde and Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe during their elections for almost free in return for port contracts.
According to Reuters, a corruption probe involving the French billionaire is a headache for Conde ahead of presidential elections expected in 2020. Guinea has historically been the most fiercely independent of France’s former colonies in Africa — its independence leader Sekou Toure bucked a trend in the region by rejecting membership of the CFA franc currency zone.
Conde has welcomed opposition calls for a parliamentary inquiry into how the 66-year-old head of the Bollore Group obtained the concession to run the main port in Conakry.
“This parliamentary inquiry, if it happens, is going to clarify things,” Conde told Reuters.
A look at Bollore’s Africa Holdings major businesses
This is the media business that has gotten him into the current scandal through his subsidiary in Africa. Vivendi’s pay-TV subsidiary Canal Plus Group has been posting a fast subscriber growth. In 2014, the company launched an Africa-focused channel A+ and in February this year, Canal Plus won the rights to broadcast the African Cup of Nations soccer competition. Canal plus is currently present in the french speaking African countries. According to the company, Vivendi’s CanalOlympia is the continent’s leading network of cinemas and live performance venues.
This is Vincent Bollore’s major business operation in Africa with about 13 percent share in the African market. The port business has about 18 container terminals across several African countries with the West African region accounting for the region where it is present the most. It is currently present in Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Bénin, Nigeria, Cameroon, C.A.R., Gabon and Congo. According to its website, the group has invested more than 3 billion euros in African ports over the past 10 years.
Bollore transports and logistics
Bolloré Railways manages and develops two concessions in Africa—SITARAIL and CAMRAIL—and is working towards establishing a new 2,700 km railway loop that will link five West African countries.
The CAMRAIL link connects Douala, Cameroon’s financial capital to N’gaoudéré (north province of the country). Camrail operates over 1,000 km of railway tracks. Every year, 1.6 million passengers and 1.8 million tonnes of freight use the network. The SITARAIL connects Ivory Coast to Burkina Faso. Each year, it enables around 200,000 passengers to travel in total safety and 900,000 tonnes of freight are also transported.
According to Bloomberg, the logistic division caters to the energy, mining and construction sectors and employs 25,000 people across 46 countries. The African logistics operations made 2.37 billion euros ($2.9 billion) in sales last year.