Keeping in Touch in Guinea

familyImportant phones and addresses
Telephones in Guinea
Mailing to and from Guinea
Packages sent to Guinea
Email access

  Important phones and addresses

Phones in Guinea: dial 011, and then…

Peace Corps Houses:
Conakry Transit House: 224-62-35-02-44
Labe:
224-62-35-02-41 (land)
224-60-26-03-45 (cell)
224-64-46-32-84 (cell)
Boke:
224-62-35-02-42 (land)
224-60-25-15-38 (cell)
224-64-43-71-48 (cell)
Kankan:
224-62-35-02-43 (land)

Peace Corps HQ Office, Conakry 224-62-35-02-40
ENATEF (Mamou) 224-60-68-06-34
Peace Corps Address, Conakry

Corps de la Paix Americain
BP 1927
Conakry, Guinea
West Africa
Tel: 011-224-62-35-02-40

US Embassy in Guinea

American Embassy
2d Blvd. and 9th Ave, B.P. 603
Conakry, Guinea
West Africa
Tel: 245-441-520

Guinean Embassy in the US

Embassy of the Republic of Guinea
2112 Leroy Place NW
Washington, DC 20008
202-986-4300
The Consul was Bapate Barry, Tel: 202 325-6495 or 202-986-4300.
For visa requirements, see our visiting Guinea page.

Peace Corps Headquarters, Washington DC – Guinea Desk

Contact person is:

Ryan Derni
Country Desk Assistant
Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea, Senegal
RPCV Guinea 2005-2007
Tel: 1-800-424-8580 ext. 2318 or (202) 692-2318
Fax: (202) 692-2301
rderni@ peacecorps.gov

(at the Africa Region Desk of the Peace Corps in Washington DC)

DHL Service

Note : Always address the DHL packages to the Peace Corps Director, but include the volunteer’s name inside the package.

Peace Corps Director
Corps de la Paix, Guinée
Quartier Taouyah, Commune de Ratoma
B.P. 1927
Conakry
Guinea

International Refugee Commission (IRC)

Timothy Bishop
West Africa Regional Coordinator
International Rescue Committee
122 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10168
Tel 212-551-0989
Fax 212-551-3185

  Telephones in Guinea

Cell phone coverage is available in all major cities and many towns that are near main roads.

Phone calls to Guinea are still quite expensive, so shop around for the lowest rate. Feel free to ask the Guinea List e-mail list for suggestions. The following are some good places to start:

AT&T International Calling Plan

  • A flat dollar amount a month and then pay a substantially discounted per-minute rate
  • This is a direct-dial service for 50 cents a minute that is billed to your regular telephone number at the end of the month. You can reach them at 1-888-223-1610.

Uniontelecard database

Check out for a large database of calling cards. They allow you to search for the least expensive card by country.

Callback

For people in Guinea to call the states, there is Callback. Callback works like a switch. You subscribe to the service, and you can use it anywhere in the world and pay US fees. A Guinean friend of Stephanie Chasteen, Ousmane Barry, is an agent for one of them, Globaltel. It’s only $ .315 per minute from Guinea or you can buy a pre-paid phone card of $25, $50 or $100. Here is his website or email Ousmane at mitty@golody.com 

Prepaid international calling cards or card services

  • VIP Communications requires users to create an account at www.joinvip.com, but the they provide good service and decent rates when calling Guinea. “It costs us about $0.40 per minute to call Guinea with VIP, but we do not have to dial long strings of numbers since our phone number is pre-registered with them. We have been using this service for about 4 years and have found it very reliable. When we did experience a problem, their customer service had real people based in DC answering their phones.”
  • Pre-paid calling cards can get you lower rates, but may be unreliable. The cards that are available change often, and a card that worked last week may no longer. You can purchase these cards at most convenience stores.
  • Prepaid AT&T phone card, 14 cents a minute to Guinea (as of Feb 1, 2006), purchased at Walmart. With this card dial the access number and the card number (both printed on the card). Do not dial the “011” international code but do dial the country code “224” and then the phone number. After you dial these numbers, there’s a 10-15 second pause. If the number rings through, you’ll hear a long buzz with stops and then buzzes again. This is the phone ringing at the other end. If you hear a warbling tone and a message in French (with or without music in the background) your call will not go through. Unfortunately, if you wait until you hear the French message, you will be charged for the call. We spent $15 figuring this out. My advice is to hang up if you hear the warbling tone, wait a few minutes, and try again.”
  • MCI Global calling card can be purchased at Costco for $20.00. On the front of the card it said “MCI 575 minutes rechargable prepaid phone card.” The cost using this card for calls to Guinea is 38 cents per minute.
  • Nobel.com – Rates from 13 – 20 cents for Guinea. Gets some high ratings from parents. One says, “The one-second card seems to be a better value even though the cost per minute is higher because sometimes when I call nothing happens but somehow I’ve connected and time (= money) is deducted. Better to lose seconds than 3 minutes.
  • Prepaid Call has phone cards to a variety of countries. Their best rate to Guinea without a connection fee was $0.141 as of January 2008.

  Mailing to and from Guinea

Mail is slow and letters to and from Guinea can get lost. There are post offices in prefectural and regional capitals, but if you live in the bush, you will have to travel to send and receive mail.

Most Peace Corps volunteers use an informal mail system, since their sites have no post office. Once mail to PCVs makes it to Conakry, Peace Corps picks it up. Once Peace Corps picks it up, it sits in the PC office until: a) the volunteer comes to get it, b) a Peace Corps mail run goes out, or c) someone else takes it to the regional capital. If someone takes it to the regional capital, then it sits in the regional house until either the volunteer comes and gets it or another person (usually a volunteer) comes through the regional capital on their way to visit the volunteer who has mail.

For PCVs using the informal system, the length of time varies mostly depending on distance from the regional capitol or from a roadway frequently passed by Peace Corps or other friendly expat vehicles. If all of the stars are in alignment, a letter can arrive in a volunteer’s hands up-country within two weeks of being sent. This is enough of a rarity that volunteers marvel over it when it happens. One or two months is not rare. For packages, 2- 12 months is average.

Mail sent by PCVs from Guinea is often dependent on someone being willing to take it to the States. People travel to Guinea often and are willing to take packages/mail. There are frequent updates on who is going on the Guinea List.

When you send mail to a PCV, be sure to include and highlight the words “Corps de la Paix Américain” in the address. Not all Guineans write the numbers the way we do in the States–especially the numbers 1, 7, and 9, and those are 3 of the numbers in our Peace Corps address’s “B.P. 1927.” Yet everyone in Guinea knows about Peace Corps, and every letter or package with “Corps de la Paix” on it will go straight to the Peace Corps’s mailbox in Conakry.

 

Who is Going to Guinea and can carry courier mail.

 

Post Boxes

Guinea residents (including PCVs) can obtain a PO Box (Boite Postale, or BP) in the prefecture nearest where they live for a fee. Each prefecture’s post office has a different level of reliability and requires testing. Send a few test mails, and if the address works consistently, it could be distributed more frequently.

If the PO Box works, it’s tremendously useful for letters (not for packages). Instead of receiving mail once every two or three months when visiting regional capitals, some people report receiving mail once or twice a week. If you are in the prefectoral capital with any frequency, this is an option to consider.

We have good reports on the Post Offices in Fria, Pita, Kissidougou, Dinguiraye, and Mamou.

  Packages sent to Guinea

It is best to send small packages. The Guinean mail system is not reliable, particularly with packages.

Surface mail
Do not, by any means, send packages by surface mail. They will never arrive.

Airmail packages

Airmail packages sometimes arrive (50-75% receive rate). Padded 9″x12″ envelopes seemed to work well–they’re much cheaper to send than boxes and I suspect they’re “inspected” less frequently.
DHL

DHL is expensive and may cost the volunteer to receive it, but if it is very important, it is more certain to arrive.

Fed Ex

Fed Ex does not deliver to Guinea.

Air cargo

You can send packages via air cargo with Delta Airlines/Air France. It’s $16.72/kilo, at least out of New York (1 kg = 2.2 lb). Whereas a 10 lb box costs over $200 to send with DHL, it’s about $80 via air cargo.

M-Bag

M-Bag is for books, and costs less than other mail. It costs about $4 a pound with a minimum of 11 pounds to send an M-bag to Guinea.
As with the mail, be sure to include and highlight the words “Corps de la Paix Américain ” in the address. This eliminates the confusion of not recognizing the way we write 1927.

Suggestions of things to send:

  • Newspaper clippings, magazines, small paperback books
  • Photos and pictures
  • Music tapes, tapes from the radio, voice recordings
  • Batteries and film
  • DVDs for the Conakry house
  • Edible goodies: junk food, pasta sauce mix, koolaid, instant meals, ramen noodles, dried fruit, mac & cheese, spices., hot chocolate, granola bars, cocoa
  • Frivolous surprises (stickers, bookmarks, etc.)
  • Coloring books for the kids

  Email access

Volunteers have access to email whenever they come to Conakry and in most regional capitals.