105. Equitorial Guinea - First World Country in Africa....!!

Updated: Jun 28

Why Equitorial Guinea is Special in Africa ?


Equatorial Guinea Aka Spanish Guinea is a country on the west coast of Central Africa, with an area of 28,000 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi). Formerly the colony of Spanish Guinea, its post-independence name evokes its location near both the Equator and the Gulf of Guinea. As of 2015, the country had a population of 1,225,367.


Equatorial Guinea consists of two parts, an insular and a mainland region. The insular region consists of the islands of Bioko (formerly Fernando Pó) in the Gulf of Guinea and Annobón, a small volcanic island which is the only part of the country south of the equator. Bioko Island is the northernmost part of Equatorial Guinea and is the site of the country's capital, Malabo.


Pic : Malabo, Capital City of Equitorial Guinea


The Portuguese-speaking island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe is located between Bioko and Annobón. The mainland region, Río Muni, is bordered by Cameroon on the north and Gabon on the south and east. It is the location of Bata, Equatorial Guinea's largest city, and Ciudad de la Paz, the country's planned future capital. Rio Muni also includes several small offshore islands, such as Corisco, Elobey Grande, and Elobey Chico. The country is a member of the African Union, Francophonie, OPEC and the CPLP.



After becoming independent from Spain in 1968, Equatorial Guinea was ruled by President for life Francisco Macías Nguema until he was overthrown in a coup in 1979 by his nephew Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo who has served as the country's president since. Both presidents have been widely characterized as dictators by foreign observers. Since the mid-1990s, Equatorial Guinea has become one of sub-Saharan Africa's largest oil producers.


It has subsequently become the richest country per capita in Africa, and its gross domestic product (GDP) adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita ranks 43rd in the world; however, the wealth is distributed extremely unevenly, with few people benefiting from the oil riches. The country ranks 144th on the 2019 Human Development Index,with less than half the population having access to clean drinking water and about 10% of children dying before the age of five.



Equatorial Guinea's government is authoritarian and has one of the worst human rights records in the world, consistently ranking among the "worst of the worst" in Freedom House's annual survey of political and civil rights. Reporters Without Borders ranks President Obiang among its "predators" of press freedom. Human trafficking is a significant problem with the U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report identifying Equatorial Guinea as a source and destination country for forced labour and sex trafficking. The report also noted that Equatorial Guinea "does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so."


I. Economic Overview


The country has been one of the fastest growing economies in Africa in the past decade. After the discovery of large oil reserves in the 1990s, Equatorial Guinea became the third-largest producer of oil in Sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria and Angola. More recently, substantial gas reserves have also been discovered. However, the country macroeconomic and fiscal situation has deteriorated following the oil price drop.


EQG ( Equitorial Guinea ) experienced the full extent of the Central Africa Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) crisis because of its large dependence on oil exports and lack of sufficient buffers, such as government deposits and international reserves and while it has announced plans for adjustment is has not yet reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


Pic : Obiang and U.S. president Obama with their wives in 2014


The government’s development agenda is guided by a medium-term strategy paper, the National Economic Development Plan: Horizon 2020, which targets economic diversification and poverty reduction. The first phase of Horizon 2020 focused on infrastructure development was concluded in 2012. The second phase will focus on economic diversification, targeting strategic new sectors such as fisheries, agriculture, tourism and finance.



Equatorial Guinea is among the countries worst hit by the Central African Economic Monetary Community (CEMAC) crisis which started in 2014, facing twin deficits and a rapid loss of international reserves stemming from dependence on oil exports, lack of sufficient buffers, and weak public financial management (PFM) procedures.


To restore its external and fiscal imbalances, Equatorial Guinea is undertaking several reforms and has entered into an IMF Staff Monitored Program (SMP) in May 2018. The reforms include raising non-hydrocarbon tax revenues and reducing the non-hydrocarbon primary deficit, improving PFM in coordination with the other CEMAC countries, supporting social sectors, protecting the banking sector through the non-accumulation of new arrears, and improving governance.


EQG became member of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in May 2017. For the government, joining OPEC could be an attempt to bolster foreign investment and technology transfers from other member countries, especially from the Gulf.


Pic : Airport

II. Overview Of The Economy Of Equatorial Guinea


Before independence, the country relied on cocoa production for hard currency earnings. The discovery and exploration of oil deposits have contributed to a significant increase in government revenue. Equatorial Guinea is one of the major oil producers in Sub-Saharan Africa, producing approximately 360,000 barrels per day (2004). Other major components of the GDP include farming, forestry, and fishing. Equatorial Guinea also has other unexploited natural resources including fertile soil, tropical climate, water resources, and labor sources. The country has a little industry and market for industrial products are also small. Here are some of the biggest industries in Equatorial Guinea.


1. Petroleum Industry


Oil and gas extraction dominates the economy of Equatorial Guinea and accounts for approximately 90% of the country’s GDP. The country was ranked the third largest producer of oil in Sub-Saharan Africa behind Angola and Nigeria. However, despite the oil sector being the largest in the country, it only accounts for 4% of the total jobs. The low employment capacity is attributed to the presence of large multinational players in the sector. Equatorial Guinea produces 289,000 barrels of oil per day (2015) down from 358,000 barrels per day in 2005.


The decrease in production is as a result of the fall in oil prices in 2014. With a reserve of 1.1 billion barrels, the country is expected to run out of oil in the next ten years. However, there is ongoing development of the existing commercially viable oil deposits and exploration for new deposit in the country. Equatorial Guinea is the 109th largest export economy in the world. In 2017, it shipped goods worth US$ 4.72 billion around the globe.Crude petroleum accounted for 66.5% of the total export value while petroleum gas accounted for 19.8% of the export value. It exports its petroleum product to China, South Korea, Portugal, and India.



2. Farming Industry


Agriculture is also one of the main sectors of Equatorial Guinea’s economy, accounting for approximately 2% of the GDP. While its proportion compared to the oil industry is lower, the sector plays a major role in local and foreign earnings. The share of the sector has shown considerable growth in recent years compared to the previous decades when it averaged less than 1% of the GDP. Because the oil industry is dominated by the foreign multinational company, the majority of the population depend on agriculture. An estimated 8% of the total land is engaged in crop production.


The agricultural sector has historically been known for cocoa production, with the country producing over 36,000 tons of cocoa in the 1960s. However, production has since dropped to only 4,800 tons. Cocoa is not the only prominent crop in the country. Another marginal cash crop is the coffee which does well in the country because of the tropical climate. The island of Bioko is particularly favorable for coffee and cocoa farming. Food crops are such as cassava, sweet potato, and banana are mainly cultivated in Rio Muni. Although agriculture is an important part of the country’s economy, it contributes very little to the export earnings.


3. Fishing Industry


With a coastline of approximately 644 kilometers and an exclusive economic zone of 314,000 square miles, Equatorial Guinea has a wide variety of marine species. Fishing in the country is both industrial and artisanal. The fishing industry was one of the largest industries in the country in the 1980s before the discovery of large oil and gas fields. Today, it remains one of the largest sources of income for most households living along the coast. According to “The Value of African Fisheries” study, about 4,200 people are directly involved in fishing in Equatorial Guinea and another 10,000 are involved in fish processing.


In 2013, a total of 8,600 tons of fish was caught including 1,000 tons of inland catch. Over the years, the country has averaged 1,500 to 3,100 tons of tuna every year by the industrial fleets. According to FAO, the country’s annual per capita fish consumption in the country is 25.9 kilograms and contributes approximately 40% of the animal protein and supply 23% of the total protein supply in the country.


4. Forest Industry


Timber is one of Equatorial Guinea’s leading exports, only second to oil export with rough wood accounting for 5.3% of the export earnings. The country’s forest covers approximately 62% of the total land area. Timber production increased steadily in the 1990s, with the wood export reaching a record 790,000 cubic meters in 1999. Timber is mainly produced in Rio Muni (mainland) with 97% of the harvest meant for export and the rest processed locally. The area produces mainly okoume and akoga from the rainforest. Like almost all the industries in the country, the major challenge facing the forest industry is the lack of a well-developed infrastructure.



Pic : Indian President Ramnath Kovind visiting Equitorial Guinea.


5. Tourism Industry


Fancy a holiday on which you could explore pristine rainforest buzzing with rare wildlife, doze on idyllic beaches where crystalline waters lap sands soaked in history, and admire unique colonial architecture frozen in time?

Of all the places that might come to mind – Bali, Thailand, the Caribbean perhaps – the small central African nation of Equatorial Guinea, by some accounts the world’s sixth-least visited country, would probably be among the last.


One of Africa’s most closed countries offers just such lures, however, and has become the latest seeking to boost tourism, an increasingly important sector that is moving beyond the cliches of safari parks and skint backpackers.


The added bonus is that you would have the place largely to yourself. Until recently it was cut off from the world by decades of dictatorship.


Best known for a botched coup attempt by Mark Thatcher and the mercenary Simon Mann, and the profligacy of the Obiang family which has ruled since independence in 1968, the country is also home to plenty of hidden gems to lure intrepid travellers.



“There are incredibly isolated beaches where you feel like Indiana Jones,” said Oscar Scafidi, who authored the first English-language guidebook for Equatorial Guinea, which will be launched on 4 November.


“There’s an incredible sort of mini Dubai being built in the middle of the jungle, and on the other hand it’s a paradise if you’re into animals – western lowland gorillas, forest elephants and a sea wildlife unique to the area.”



Pic : The Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción in Mongomo is Africa’s second largest cathedral. Photograph: Oscar Scafidi

Africa’s only Spanish-speaking country also stands out in other ways. Its islands became an intense slaving and trade hub where European powers and people from Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia all left their mark.


“In Corisco Island, for example, there are Spanish missionary ruins, French architecture and bottles of German gin from the 1800s untouched on the sand,” Scafidi said. “In most countries you’d have crowds of organised tour groups exploiting it, but here it’s just you and the locals.”


Tourist dollars also provide a means for many impoverished locals to benefit directly, he added.


Children are caught in a tropical downpour in Santiago de Baney on Bioko island.


Pic : Rural Area


" A population ofaround a million and lucrative oil and gas fields mean annual per capita GDP stands at around $22,300 (£14,500) – roughly the same as Portugal - but more than three-quarters of the country’s inhabitants live below the poverty line..."


Petrodollars have funded impressive construction projects, including the “mini Dubai” near the president’s birthplace. Alongside a new cathedral, plans are apace for an opera house and a new presidential palace.


The journey that led to Scafidi’s ( Author , Who written a Tour Guide on EQG ) guidebook began in 2012, when he took time off teaching in Luanda to do an overland trip that took in the countries along Africa’s Atlantic coast from Angola to Cameroon. Like many others, he had to endure the country’s notorious bureaucracy to get a visa. The government has said policies implemented this year have simplified the process as it tries to diversify the economy away from oil.


One of those to benefit is Jim Louth, who runs Undiscovered Destinations, one of the two UK outfits offering package holidays in Equatorial Guinea (the other is Native Eye). Officials have quickly approved visas for tourists travelling with his company, and two maiden trips starting this month soon filled up.




“Most tourists will only think of Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, those sort of places, but the rest of Africa is just as fascinating,” said Louth, whose company also runs trips to destinations such as Nigeria, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.



III. Four decades of growth, but Equatorial Guinea’s people still mired in poverty .


GDP per capita is among Africa’s highest but one family has held on to power and wealth for 40 years .

- A Financial Times Report


Pic : Children in a street in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea. Very little of the country's oil wealth trickles down to the country's 1m population © Luc Gnago/Reuters


In the roadside bars of New Billy, a sprawling slum in Malabo, people drink Castel beer and steer clear of politics. “They try to make Malabo like Dubai but that’s not reality — this is the real Malabo,” said one resident of Equatorial Guinea’s capital, pointing to the stream of sewage running down the rutted street. Just a few miles away, in the manicured Sipopo district, the country’s leaders courted international executives in glittering five-star hotels.


“There’s a lot of money, but it all goes to the president and his family,” the man said, before stopping himself. “But I shouldn’t talk — you talk too much and . . . ” he slid his finger across his neck. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema seized power 40 years ago, ousting his uncle in a bloody coup in 1979. Since then his family has ruled with absolute power over one of Africa’s richest countries. US oil companies discovered giant crude deposits in the country’s maritime waters in the mid-1990s, generating billions of dollars in annual revenues for the regime.


Gross domestic product per capita in the country of 1m people is now among the highest in Africa — higher than that of Brazil and China — but very little has trickled down to the population.


Pic Teodoro Obiang Nguema seized power 40 years ago in a bloody coup. Two years ago he won his fifth seven-year term as president © Reuters


" They persecute us because they’re scared "

- Andres Esono Ondo, opposition leader


Equatorial Guinea ranks 141 out of 189 countries in the UN Human Development Index. According to Human Rights Watch, it has the world’s largest gap between per capita wealth and its human development score.


“We have many, many hotels. But no schools. No good hospitals. No water, nothing,” said Andres Esono Ondo, secretary-general of Convergence for Social Democracy, one of only two genuine opposition parties. In an example that human rights activists say is typical of the regime’s treatment of its opponents, Mr Ondo was arrested in neighbouring Chad earlier this year and held by authorities for 13 days, accused by Equatorial Guinea of planning a coup. “They persecute us because they’re scared,” he told the Financial Times. “This is a government that likes violence, so when you apply the law . . . they are very nervous.”


Teodoro Obiang Nguema seized power 40 years ago in a bloody coup. Two years ago he won his fifth seven-year term as president © Reuters Freedom House, a US-based think-tank, lists Equatorial Guinea as the sixth least free country in the world between North Korea and Saudi Arabia — describing the nation as an “oil kleptocracy”. Arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings and torture are all common.


In 2016, Mr Obiang, 77, won his fifth seven-year term with his smallest share of the vote yet: 94 per cent. His coalition holds every seat in parliament. The international community has largely been silent on the state’s alleged abuses. US oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Kosmos and Marathon form the backbone of the economy.


Many Equatoguineans hope it will not be that simple and that economic and social pressures will eventually force change.


“Gaddafi is gone, Mugabe is gone,” said one man walking near the “I HEART MALABO” sign at the oceanside Paseo Maritimo promenade in Malabo. “And one day Obiang will be gone too.”


IV . Future Outlook and Risks - IMF


The growth prospects are improving on the back of medium-sized hydrocarbon projects for late 2019 onwards. This, coupled with the authorities’ continued fiscal consolidation under the program, would help narrow the external current account deficit. The gradual revival of the non-hydrocarbon sector will also support the outlook.


The authorities share staff’s assessment that risks to the outlook are broadly balanced. On the upside, private sector activity could benefit from higher oil prices while hydrocarbon output growth could be strengthened by the new projects aforementioned. On the downside, they recognize risks related to the health of the financial sector, capacity constraints and governance issues. To minimize these risks, the authorities will step up their fiscal consolidation efforts; address the financial sector vulnerabilities, in coordination with the regional supervisory body (COBAC); and enhance governance through the implementation of their Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Action Plan.


They also continue to value capacity development assistance provided by the Fund and other development partners.


V. EQG Videos


  1. 10 Things You Didn't know About Equatorial Guinea

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csip9Xn7Fx4


2. Discover Equatorial Guinea - People, Cultures, Economy and lots more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5u8bKtVWVkI


Conclusion


Equatorial Guinea, also referred to as EQG, is the only former Spanish colony in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is composed of a mainland, Rio Muni, and small islands including Bioko where the capital Malabo is located, Annobon, Corisco, Elobey, and others. According to a 2015 population census, the population is 1.2 million people. The country is bordered in the north by Cameroon, in the east and south by Gabon, and to the west by the Gulf of Guinea. It is well endowed with arable land and mineral resources ranging from gold, oil, uranium, diamond, and columbite-tantalite, and notably petroleum discovered in the 1990s.


Its Irony of the people that, Due to Dictorial Methods of Political System ( One Man Ruling for 40 Years ) , large of parts of the Population is suffering inspite of GDP per Capita of EQG is almost Equal to Portugal.


Lets hope for Better Future for EQG very Soon ....!!




MM Rao

=============================================================================================

Sources :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equatorial_Guinea

https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/equatorialguinea/overview

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-are-the-biggest-industries-in-equatorial-guinea.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/03/equatorial-guinea-put-on-tourist-map-with-publication-of-first-guidebook

https://www.ft.com/content/f4d0e2d0-1cc9-11ea-97df-cc63de1d73f4

https://www.imf.org/en/Countries/GNQ

https://www.google.com/search?q=Equatorial+Guinea+Rural&rlz=1C1CHBF_enIN925IN925&sxsrf=

24 views0 comments