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Building Local Capacity

Company: Global Alumina
Sector: Industrial Metals & Mining
Headquarters: USA / Canada
Partners: African Development Foundation (ADF) and Centre d'Appui au Development (CAD)
Partnership location: Guinea


Global Alumina was created in 2000 to develop the vast bauxite resources of the Republic of Guinea in a responsible, sustainable manner. Guinea possesses more bauxite, the raw material for aluminum, than any other country in the world. Global Alumina was formed to develop one of the largest greenfield alumina refineries in the world.

Although it possesses vast natural resources, by any measure Guinea is one of the least developed countries in the world. It has low literacy rates, and inadequate facilities for transportation, education, communications, and health care.

Global Alumina is, together with other business partners, developing a new alumina refinery in Guinea that will require about 10,000 workers during construction and 1,300 workers during operations. Many employees need to be highly skilled and trained. In order to maximize the benefits for the country and fulfill its sustainability goals, Global Alumina wants to employ as many Guineans as possible during all phases of the project. However, the company faces a difficult challenge due to the lack of training and experience available in the country. The refinery will be constructed on 1,000 hectares of land in an area previously used for subsistence farming. The company must be able to replace the livelihood activities for the affected people in this area. The company will operate in Guinea for the next approximately 100 years, and must be a consistent, good neighbour if it expects the local villagers to cooperate through construction and operation. However, it must also avoid creating a dependency as has been the norm for many mining projects where the enterprise effectively replaces the government as the provider of basic services such as health care, education, and utilities.

Actions Taken

Global Alumina prepared a Community Development and Compensation Plan based on early and broad discussions with local stakeholders. The plan was based on needs identified by the communities that would be most directly affected by the project, and included construction of new water supply wells, schools, and health centres, training for midwives, reforestation of villages, and implementation of microfinance projects.

Global Alumina wanted the affected communities to take ownership of this plan so it could grow beyond the company’s direct involvement. The best option was to team with a civil society organization with extensive experience building community capacity. Global Alumina chose the African Development Foundation (ADF) and its local implementing affiliate Centre d’Appui au Développement (Center for Development Support, CAD). The approach of ADF and CAD is to provide grants to communities to implement projects, such as health facility construction, and then provide the training, coaching, technical assistance and guidance necessary for the community to own the responsibility and establish the capacity to effectively plan, manage and implement all aspects of the community projects. In this way, communities understand that the projects are theirs to make succeed or let fail.  ADF has conducted a detailed survey of the capacity of indigenous firms in Guinea and matched their capabilities against the procurement needs in Guinea Alumina’s construction schedule. ADF has selected a number of firms to receive capacity building grants as well as loans to acquire equipment, working capital and other operational enhancements that will enable these firms to compete for contracts with more sophisticated and better capitalized foreign firms.


Global Alumina’s partnership with ADF and CAD will enhance livelihood opportunities in the immediate project area, through SME development and injection of local content into supply chain relationships with the project. Both activities will generate significant additional jobs, increase incomes, and increase the use of local products and services in the long term.  This innovative approach to local capacitybuilding has led to stakeholders understanding that they are responsible for delivering their own benefits. Guinea Alumina will facilitate the process, but is not responsible for the outcome.

Guinea Alumina expects to save money because it will be purchasing from low-cost, local providers of goods and services. There are numerous efficiency advantages of local suppliers, including improved response time, better communications, and mutual development of new programmes. By maintaining collaborative community relations, Guinea Alumina should be able to maintain minimum production disruptions and maximum goodwill throughout its very long life.

(Source: An Inspirational Guide to implementing the United Nations Global Compact, UNGCO 2007).

(Last Update: 02 January 2009)