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EQUATORIAL GUINEA. A new horizon

Article - September 25, 2012
Gifted with one of sub-Saharan Africa's largest hydrocarbon reserves and boasting a strategic geographical location, Equatorial Guinea has the potential to become the CEMAC region's energy, maritime, tourism and transshipment hub
TEODORO OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF EQUATORIAL GUINEA
Equatorial Guinea is emerging as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. After the discovery of massive reserves in the 1990s, it has become the third-largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria and Angola, with annual revenues from this sector topping $8 billion, in addition to investment now totaling more than $40 billion. The country’s sharp rise in oil exports has contributed to its impressive GDP growth, which averaged 30% annually for the first decade of the oil production start-up. At over $19,000, GDP per capita in Equatorial Guinea now exceeds some European countries.

In addition to rising regional prominence, this flush economic scenario has allowed the country to make gigantic strides towards its goal of becoming a an emerging economy by the year 2020. Now fully in progress, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s national economic development plan, Horizon 2020, aims to speed up Equatorial Guinea’s development and democratization, encompassing a range of efforts across the board from infrastructure investment and government reform to gender equality and poverty reduction.

A $1 billion Social Development Fund has been created to help support these initiatives. As a sustainable path to reducing poverty and building infrastructure, Horizon 2020 specifically targets improvements in healthcare, including access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation, and education.

Among the various new hospitals constructed in the country since the launch of the development plan is La Paz Medical Center in Bata, now one of the most sophisticated hospitals on the African continent. Strides have also been made in fighting malaria on the island of Bioko through the Malaria Control Project, which has helped reduce child mortality there by a third, far ahead of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals 2015 agenda.

“Equatorial Guinea is a country that during its short history has extended its hand to the United States. We need to work together on the security of the Gulf of Guinea because it’s very important to both countries. Given the current level of economic cooperation, Equatorial Guinea considers itself a friend and ally of
the U.S.”

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo,
President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea

The United Nations’ goals for literacy and primary education have also been met ahead of schedule. The addition of pre-school has been one of the country’s greatest achievements in education over the last few years, and educational development and training continue to be top priorities in the country. Furthering this investment have been the advances made in telecommunications, specifically in fiber optics connectivity. The capital has been connected since 2009, and the government announced in May that the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable will be connected to mainland Equatorial Guinea by the end of this year. Indeed, Equatorial Guinea is a founding member of the ACE Consortium, and the new fiber optic connection represents a quantum leap in the country’s communications.

Physical infrastructure development is a central goal of Horizon 2020, and investment in roadways, bridges, public buildings, housing and electricity networks has been ongoing.

This summer alone the President inaugurated the River Wele bridge, the Mbini City Council, the Bolondo highway and the Mbini Stadium, while laying the foundation stones of the Mbini public market, district courthouse, police station and hospital, as well as unveiling plans for a new social housing sub-division there. The first stone was also laid this summer for a new highway connecting Sipolo with Bilen and the Bata-Bome highway, in addition to the commencement of upgrades on various existing roadways and the expansion of Bata Port.

Improvements in public infrastructure and hotels also surged ahead of several events of global relevance hosted by Equatorial Guinea recently, including the African Union Summit in 2011 and the Africa Cup of Nations and the Africa-South America Summit earlier this year, which launched the country into the international spotlight and served to showcase the nation’s progress. Equatorial Guinea is also gearing up to host the seventh African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Heads of State Summit this year from December 10-14, which provides the opportunity for leaders from those regions to discuss the implications of the global economic crisis on member states, ACP cooperation with BRICs, intra-ACP cooperation and ACP-EU trade relations. 

The success of the 2011 referendum vote was another benchmark for the country, marking a step forward in its democratization process – a key goal in Horizon 2020. The approval of new constitutional reforms paves the way for the creation of the post of vice-president in the country and limits the tenure that the head of state may have at the helm. Other reforms designed to contribute to more transparent governance and improved accountability included the creation of new bodies such as the Senate, Council of the Republic, National Council for Economic and Social Development, Court of Auditors and Ombudsman’s Office.

Since assuming the office of President in 1979,  Mr. Obiang has overseen a number of milestones including Equatorial Guinea’s membership in the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC), the commencement of both oil and gas production in the country, and the subsequent creation of national oil and gas companies GE Petrol and Sonagas. 

The President has long been a strong supporter of close ties with the United States, and actively advocated for the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Malabo in 2006, since which time the U.S. has become one of Equatorial Guinea’s largest bilateral trading partners. Today, Equatorial Guinea supplies roughly 17% of the United States’ natural gas. U.S. investments alone in Equatorial Guinea total more than $20 billion, and the largest foreign companies on Equatoguinean soil are American, and include ExxonMobil and Marathon Oil. .

Indeed, President Obiang has often reiterated the importance of continued cooperation between the two countries. “Equatorial Guinea is a country that during its short history has extended its hand to the United States. We need to work together on the security of the Gulf of Guinea because it’s very important to both countries. Given the current level of economic cooperation, Equatorial Guinea considers itself a friend and ally of the U.S.,” the President said.

  1 COMMENT



JD James & Company
27/09/2012  |  15:23
100% of 1

It is a pleasure to see acknowledgement of the vision of President Obiang in the development of his nation.