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Setting sail for Horizon 2020

Article - September 25, 2012
The umbrella under which the Horizon 2020 capital projects are coordinated, the Horizon Agency is overseeing Equatorial Guinea's transformation to developed country
At the African Union (AU) Summit in Malabo in 2011, former president of Ghana John Kufuor said, “Ten years ago, Equatorial Guinea was ranked amongst the poorest of the African countries; today it is ranked very high amongst us. The country is making strides in all areas; Equatorial Guinea is a country rapidly evolving.”

His words underscored the development that has taken place in the country over the past few years since President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo set the Horizon 2020 development plan in motion in 2007.

Containing many of the benchmarks set out in the UN Millennium Development Goals, Horizon 2020 is a comprehensive economic and social strategy aimed at moving the country towards a developed and sustainable economy by 2020.

Since 2007, Equatorial Guinea has indeed been rapidly transformed, a result of the numerous initiatives in education, healthcare, infrastructure and economic development launched under the plan and underpinned by the country’s solid economic performance after the discovery of major oil fields.

At the summit, President Obiang, who was serving as AU chairperson, emphasized his government’s efforts to drive economic diversification in strategic sectors and consequently, reduce poverty through the investment of these oil revenues, saying, “Africa has begun its revival, and it is centered on the development of the continent. Africa has taken control of its own resources, which is helping our countries to move forward. We continue to work toward institutional reforms and democracy to reach the goals of the Horizon 2020 development plan and move closer to a developed economy.”

“Africa has begun its revival, and it is centered on the development of the continent. Africa has taken control of its own resources, which is helping our countries to move forward.”

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo

To this end, the government has created the Social Development Fund as a part of Horizon 2020. The plan envisages over $1 billion in future spending –with international cooperation to lend technical know-how – in healthcare and social welfare, education, gender equality, transport, electricity, water and sanitation, and social housing infrastructure.

Horizon 2020 also includes programs aimed at the modernization of public governance and investment in the formation and training of human capital. These elements are meant to form the base upon which the diversified economy – comprised of four main priority sectors, namely energy, agriculture, fisheries and services – can take root.

Reporting to the Ministry of Planning, the Horizon Agency has been established to oversee these initiatives and act as coordinator with the various government ministries involved in their rollout, mobilizing the efforts of government, administration and the private sector towards Horizon 2020 goals.

The agency is responsible for ensuring the coherent development of the basic economic infrastructures and improved living standards, including increased access to health services and clean water, the training of young professionals and the pursuit of democratic progress. It is also tasked with promoting private initiates to complement government investment as a source of social development.

On an operational level, the Horizon Agency’s mandates include guaranteeing a high-quality, affordable national energy supply, establishing modern transportation infrastructures, improving the quality of education at all levels, and eradicating gender inequality in access to education and training.

In addition, the agency is working towards adapting the technical, professional and university training available in the country to the needs of the job market, while acting to strengthen national human resources capacities across all economic sectors, with a special emphasis on promoting economic autonomy for women.

Also in the social development sphere, the Horizon Agency is dedicated to improving the offer, access and quality of health services throughout the country and oversees the establishment of national housing initiatives in line with the government’s pledge to guarantee housing for all.

Finally, the agency is tasked with the management of programs aimed at guaranteeing human rights in the country.

In the economic arena, the Horizon Agency coordinates efforts aimed at promoting agriculture in order to guarantee food security, while working to improve environmental protection and natural resource conservation.

The agency is also dedicated to transforming Equatorial Guinea into a destination of reference for services, in particular tourism and financial services, and for sea products, aiming in this sector as in others to maintain as much as the value chain as possible on domestic territory.

As Equatorial Guinea lays the foundations for Horizon 2020, the country’s development progress is serving as a benchmark for regional initiatives. As President Obiang has said, “Change is under way for the developing world. There is nothing stopping us. Not only are we changing in a physical sense, but we are also changing people’s mindsets. The perception of Africa is changing and we are making sure Equatorial Guinea is leading the way.”