Tuesday, June 26, 2012

AU Deputy Chairperson Thanks Equatorial Guinea for Sending Humanitarian Aid to Somalia

 Government's donation is part of nation's growing humanitarian efforts

H.E. Dr. Erastus Mwencha, the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union, thanked the Government of Equatorial Guinea for donating $2 million in humanitarian aid to Somalia. A team of people from different groups within Equatorial Guinea will deliver the humanitarian aid, which is dedicated to helping the millions of people who were affected by a severe famine last year.

“It is worth recalling here the personal commitment of H.E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the then Chairperson of the African Union when he called for the gesture of solidarity from all member states to providing African solutions to African problems,” said Dr. Mwencha.  

The African Union Commission has received up to US$8.7 million through the UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator to fund ongoing projects. According to Dr. Mwencha, there is a greater need for aid because the famine situation is becoming more complex.

Equatorial Guinea Proposes The Creation Of An African Agency Focused On Sustainable Development

West African Nation pledged to United Nations agreements on Climate Change, Biological Diversity and Desertification at the UN Rio+20 Conference

Equatorial Guinea’s President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, made a push, last week at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro, for his country and the rest of the African continent to adopt specific measures for the implementation of programs to encourage sustainable development in Africa.

"From Equatorial Guinea we propose the creation of an African agency for sustainable development, which would develop programs that provide maximum guarantees for growth and security for people at the lowest possible cost," said President Obiang. In addition to the establishment of an African agency focused on sustainable development, President Obiang pointed out "Equatorial Guinea hopes that after twenty years of efforts to provide greater security of life on earth, the summit of Rio+20 sets the stage of man's encounter with himself. We have to understand that the current crisis in developed countries cannot be solved without the participation of developing countries, nor can the access of the least advanced countries to technology be made without the involvement and goodwill of the countries with such technology."

He continued to say that “the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, following the policy adopted by the Commission of Central African Forests (COMIFAC), has ratified with the Member States of the United Nations the agreements on Climate Change, Biological Diversity and Desertification, adopting internal policies for the protection, conservation and restoration of the environment, endangered biological species and sustainable use of natural resources."

President Obiang asked for the international community’s strategic support in helping developing countries establish programs focused on learning and adopting agriculture techniques that will help ensure to secure the food security for their citizens. He said that most African countries have based their industrial growth through the measured use of natural resources with a conscientious management and planning of future generations. 

President Obiang led a delegation to join world leaders, other governments, nongovernmental agencies, international institutions, private-sector organizations and other groups at Rio+20.

Equatorial Guinea has heavily invested in sustainable development. It is part of a Global Environment Facility (GEF) project titled A Regional Focus on Sustainable Timber Management in the Congo Basin’, an initiative backed by international development organizations, national NGOs, and government officials. By participating in these types of projects, Equatorial Guinea is improving the welfare of local communities and forest conservation, while protecting its people’s interests in terms of commercial activities.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Equatorial Guinea Participates On United Nations Conference On Sustainable Development Rio+20

West African Nation Joins Conversation on Pathway to Safer, Equitable and Cleaner Environment

The President of Equatorial Guinea led a delegation to join world leaders, other governments, nongovernmental agencies, international institutions, private-sector organizations and other groups June 20-22, in Rio de Janeiro, for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

"This conference is the second opportunity to give a boost to sustainable development," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

World leaders participating in Rio+20 came together to analyze how they can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on a crowded planet to get to the future we want. The conference centered around two themes, a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development.

“Equatorial Guinea shares the Rio+20 objectives to support green economy and strengthen the multilateral organizations dedicated to sustainable development,” said President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. “Promoting jobs and using resources in a sustainable way will help our country move closer to a sustainable and emergent economy as it is part of our Horizon 2020 development plan.”

Equatorial Guinea has heavily invested in sustainable development. It is part of a Global Environment Facility (GEF) project titled A Regional Focus on Sustainable Timber Management in the Congo Basin’, an initiative backed by international development organizations, national NGOs, and government officials. By participating in these types of projects, Equatorial Guinea is improving the welfare of local communities and forest conservation, while protecting its people’s interests in terms of commercial activities.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Houston Forum Presents Investment Opportunities In Equatorial Guinea

Favorable conditions for U.S. investment in a modern, diversifying economy.President Obiang seeks U.S. companies for IT, telecoms, fisheries, agribusiness, mining, tourism. 

The government of Equatorial Guinea laid out the welcome mat in Houston Monday for U.S. investments in information technology, telecommunications, fisheries, construction, agriculture and agroindustry, mining and hydrocarbons.
Some 200 representatives of companies from the Houston area and beyond gathered for a day-long forum on the diversification of Equatorial Guinea’s economy sponsored by the Greater Houston Partnership, an organization that promotes economic prosperity in the 10-county Houston region. They were joined by U.S. Representatives Al Green (D-TX) and Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX).

President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and several cabinet members presented the government’s plans to diversify the country’s economy, which is currently largely dependent on petroleum extraction. The officials also explained the regulatory regime, infrastructure, economic environment, government assistance and economic incentives foreign investors will find in Equatorial Guinea, including a one-stop shop to assist businesses in getting established.

Positive U.S. Role in Remarkable Development

President Obiang praised the role U.S. investment has played in the development of his country over the last 15 years. He noted that American companies had invested in Equatorial Guinea when it was considered high-risk and had been amply rewarded. He placed total U.S. investment in the country at nearly $30 billion, mostly in the oil and gas sector. Much of that investment has come from Houston.

“Nearly 20 years ago, I made my first visit to Houston. At that time, Equatorial Guinea was the poorest country on the continent…. I came here and met with American businessmen and I invited them to invest in the petroleum sector, owing to my disappointment when Spanish and French companies determined after ten years of exploration that Equatorial Guinea did not have petroleum. And at that time, I lamented I didn’t think nature could be so unfair, since to the north, we have Nigeria which is a petroleum producer, and to the south we have Gabon, which also has petroleum. And Cameroon also is a petroleum producer. But Equatorial Guinea, which is in the midst of those three countries, supposedly had none.”

He recalled that it was an American, Joe Walter, “who decided to invest in Equatorial Guinea. He named his company Walter International. It was a small company.  And after six months, he discovered the first gas deposits in the very field where the others had spent ten years.”
Today, Equatorial Guinea is the third-largest producer of petroleum in sub-Saharan Africa, and it has used its income from petroleum to launch an ambitious program to develop its infrastructure. Called Horizon 2020, the program’s goal is to make Equatorial Guinea a self-sufficient, emerging economy by the year 2020. The nation has invested heavily in power generation, ports, roads, education and health in an effort to create a modern infrastructure and build the capacity of the nation’s people.

Today, Equatorial Guinea attracts foreign migrants seeking opportunities in its growing economy and makes strong efforts to control illegal immigration in order to preserve opportunities for its citizens. Ninety-six percent of the population is below the age of 64, and 40% is younger than 15. The literacy rate is 93%.

Obiang expressed confidence in the ability of American companies to help diversify the economy in an environment that now has few risks. Equatorial Guinea is “now considered a model country in African development,” said President Obiang, and other African countries frequently consult with his government in formulating their own development policies.

The government officials at the forum revealed that Equatorial Guinea offers numerous services and incentives to investors, including significant reductions in taxes, fees and duties, a favorable regulatory regime and a one-stop shop in government to assist investors in getting established.

Telecommunications Solve Challenges of Geography

Equatorial Guinea is composed of territory on the African continent and several islands. The capital, Malabo, is on the island of Bioko while the nation’s business and financial center, Bata, is located on the mainland. This geography has made telecommunications a high priority for the government, which currently is upgrading its network and has three companies providing telephone, wireless and Internet service. A fiber-optic network and an undersea cable connecting Bioko and the mainland territory, Rio Muni, will form the country’s telecommunications backbone.

The country is developing its petrochemical industry and is building storage and port facilities for natural gas.

In agriculture, Equatorial Guinea is a traditional exporter of high-quality cacao and other tropical products, such as coconut and palm oil. President Obiang and other officials hope to promote the production of tropical fruits and plants, peanuts, corn and other agricultural products, and further develop the nation’s livestock industry.

Equatorial Guinea’s exclusive maritime economic zone is ten times larger than its land mass, with vast potential for fisheries. Officials also pointed out deposits of gold, diamonds, manganese and tantalum that offer potential for mining investment.

Tourism is another area with potential for investment. Officials pointed out the country’s unspoiled beaches and forests and the presence of major companies such as Hilton and Accor operating modern hotels.

Friday, June 8, 2012

President Obiang Pardons Opposition Figure And Others

President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo recently pardoned Dr. Wenceslao Mansogo Alo, whose arrest and trial on charges of criminal negligence had been criticized by human-rights groups. Dr. Mansogo was one of several prisoners pardoned in a decree published on June 4.

Dr. Wenceslao Mansogo Alo and the nurse who worked with him, Asunciรณn Asumu Mangue were among the pardoned prisoners. Some human rights groups had charged that the case was politically motivated because Dr. Mansogo was a member of the opposition party Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS). However, the court found that victim patient at Dr. Mansogo’s clinic had died from improper administration of anesthesia and that the clinic did not have adequate personnel on hand during the surgery. The case was brought by the family of the deceased, and the court functioned with complete independence.

The other prisoners pardoned had been incarcerated for crimes including embezzlement, fraud, offenses against the fundamental laws, criminal negligence, and slander.

President Obiang has used the presidential power of pardon, a prerogative given to heads of state under most national constitutions, on several occasions in the past to free persons convicted of non-violent crimes and who pose no danger to society. In 2011, he pardoned the nation’s last remining political prisoners, including participants in a coup plot. 

The Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 noted the fact that there are no political prisoners in Equatorial Guinea. It also documented several positive developments in the country, including the general availability of uncensored news and efforts to improve health conditions; protect women, children, the disabled and minorities; and improve the penal system.

The West African nation is carrying out a series of governmental changes mandated by the constitutional reform, which was approved in a referendum by 97.7 percent of voters November 2011. It aimed to promote government transparency and improve the country’s judicial and executive branches.