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Business evolves far beyond oil

Article - August 5, 2014
Thanks to its varying development programs and its future-focused strategies and vision, the country is in a good position to become an economic powerhouse on the African continent
EQUATORIAL GUINEA
“This is the best time” for Equatorial Guinea, says Gregorio Boho, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce.

The Horizon 2020 Plan, which was set into motion by the government in 2007, has been helping to transform the country’s infrastructure and economy. The plan, which also features strengthening social policy and the reduction of poverty, places considerable focus on sustainable development.

Diversification is a top priority in the nation’s economic plans along with increasing its competitiveness. For most of this millennium, the country has experienced a boom thanks to a growing energy sector, due in large part to the American oil industry and the continuing excellent relations between the two nations. Now, Equatorial Guinea is looking beyond oil and towards investment in other sectors with a view to a diverse and sustainable economy.

One way they are doing this is focusing more on agriculture and fishing - agricultural development is very major tenet of the Plan, says Mr. Boho, an agronomist with many years in public service. According to Mr. Boho, the country is “working to create the best possible conditions for agriculture, encouraging people to return to the field and implement agriculture and practices that can sustain the country beyond oil.”

The country is also working to attract more foreign investment by being more customized in terms of treatment and streamlining the process, making it easier and faster for businesses to install themselves in the country. The Chamber of Commerce plays a major role in this – its primary role in the country’s development, Mr. Boho states, is in assisting to create a solid foundation between companies and/or investors and the ministries of government.

The Chamber eases the process by expediting and facilitating the settlement procedures for business, helping to foster relationships in all levels of business including the country’s institutions and local entrepreneurs. They are the point of contact for interested businesses and are also responsible for promoting the country to prospective investors.

In addition, human resources is a high priority on the Chamber’s agenda: “we seek the continuous training of our human capital, so that [workers] can be part of those [foreign] companies and at the same time acquire the know-how so that it can be shared for the country’s benefit,” Mr. Boho states.

The country has been a member of CEMAC (the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa) since 1983, an organization put in place to help establish a Central African market. Maintaining the continent’s highest income per capita, and with its various development projects underway, Equatorial Guinea is poised to lead and ready to compete.

But how does it fare in competition with its African counterparts? It is “the quality of our infrastructure” which is our advantage, Mr. Boho asserts; the country is also working on upgrading existing infrastructure using technological innovation in order to facilitate advancements in development.

It is important, says Mr. Boho, that the nation focus on agriculture, fishing and opening pathways for businesses and investments, which is what will ultimately make Equatorial Guinea a leader in Africa. Another advantage? The security which is found in Equatorial Guinea, Mr. Boho says, is not found in many African countries. It also helps that business relations with the U.S. are excellent. The U.S. “has been the engine of Guinean development in the last several years,” Mr. Boho says; thanks to that relationship, “we have experienced growth” and receive a lot of support. It is a relationship that “is strengthening day by day, and we are committed to that.”

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