More than 25,000 Americans Work in Equatorial Guinea Today
Investing in Equatorial Guinea is a flexible and friendly process, according to American businessman John James.
In a recent interview with Focus Washington, John James, founder and chairman of JD James & Company, an advisory firm serving governments, government sponsored enterprises and the global private sector in West and Central Africa, said that Equatorial Guinea offers more flexibility to establish a business than other African countries because the government has deeply focused on the country’s development. James has lived and worked in Africa for more than ten years.
James said that Equatorial Guinea is one of the most dynamic stories in Africa, with the country having experienced a tremendous boom in oil production in the past 10 to 15 years.
The process of converting oil into development has been a major task for Equatorial Guinea. “Although they have a tax regime which is similar to the one in the United States, as a new company they are willing to give you, for example, a tax holiday on income taxes for 5, 10 or 15 years depending on the type of industry,” he said.
Development has significantly increased in Equatorial Guinea. While comparing Equatorial Guinea investment with other African countries, James strongly recommended that American companies invest in the West African nation and said, “Both the business climate and the people have been very friendly. We have not seen any problems with the any of the American companies. Just about every major American company that there is, is either there or wants to go there. I have never heard one complaint.”
James believes that companies in Equatorial Guinea have the advantage of a clean slate, because the government has an entirely new process for welcoming and establishing businesses. “Development has only been underway for 10 to 12 years, and they need almost everything. They need technical support, training for their local workers. They have been very aggressive in getting outsiders to come and help them. Whether it’s consumer good, natural resources, surfaces, infrastructure--all of that is on the table in terms of American businesses.”
James says that the government has been investing tremendous amounts of money in education in order to create a capable, modern workforce, and he cautions people to remember that they are starting from a very low base point several years ago.
James also talked about the government’s initiatives to improve the economic conditions in the country, “The Head of State, President Obiang, has specifically said in his vision 2020 that his number one focus is to improve the standard of living for the entire country. In Equatorial Guinea, there’s an offshore island, which is where the capital is located, and then you have the mainland, where roughly 70% of the population is. And that balancing act of developing both parts has been a difficult one, but he and his government are doing everything they can to make sure there is an even distribution of the benefits of the oil.”
James says that there are no problems with repatriation of profits in Equatorial Guinea. Equatorial Guinea is a member of CEMAC, which is the Central African Economic and Monetary Community. The country uses the CFA franc, which is pegged to the Euro, so transactions can be done in the CFA, Euro or American Dollar. “The bulk of the industries that are in Equatorial Guinea are in fact American companies, we have more than 25,000 American workers in Equatorial Guinea today” said James.