Diversification and Foreign Investment the Key to Equatorial Guinea’s Future
The Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea is on the cusp of dynamic growth. From an abundance of arable land, natural resources, coupled with the mandate to diversify as a priority in light of cyclical commodity crises, Equatorial Guinea has learned from the past and reshaped how it handles its oil reserves.
In the creation of its inaugural Economic, Trade and Investment Summit (ETIS) taking place in October of 2019, it’s clear that the only Spanish speaking nation on the continent is actualizing an ‘open for business’ mentality. Equatorial Guinea is presently pursuing greater intra-trade within Africa and beyond, shedding light on both the myriad of opportunities for foreign direct investment (FDI) while reversing a few of the monikers on governance and economic freedoms which have hindered those investment opportunities from truly flourishing in the past.
Cesar Mbah Abogo, Equatorial Guinea’s Secretary of State, has described the country’s National Development Plan ‘Horizon 2020,’ as a truly reformative agenda, one not only ensuring sustainable economic prosperity and social welfare for the country’s citizens, but one offering true self-sufficiency, accountability, and governance that works for the people. The ultimate goal is to renew belief in Equatorial Guinea’s potential as a hub and centralized conduit to lasting intercontinental opportunity across Central and Western Africa.
When asked about the foreign direct investment opportunities inherent to Equatorial Guinea, Cesar Mbah Abogo looked to the future: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon Africa and let me be clear – Equatorial Guinea will not be left out of its embrace.”
After the collapse of oil prices at the end of 2014, we knew we had to think proactively. Our country took measures to accelerate the development and strengthening of our production technologies, diversified in sectors critical to our gross domestic product (GDP) and emphasized a cost-effective yet accountable e-Government services programme to fuel new business growth.
Last year, we announced that this would be a ‘Year of Energy’ for our nation and we are standing behind this commitment with, as I’ve said before, both pride and proof. Our oil and mining sectors are being aggressively promoted (with respective bidding rounds for blocks and contracts such as mineral exploration, prospecting in progress) and important events are being planned in and around the country, such as
The 5th Summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum and the Economic and Trade Investment Summit of 2019 (ETIS 2019).
It is clearly no question that reinvigorating foreign investment is at the forefront of ETIS 2019 and of Horizon 2020 bearing fruit; however, concrete actions need to be taken in its lead up to unlock the diverse opportunities for mutually- beneficial growth that will see the president’s agenda come to fruition.
Social welfare in the country is one of those reformative actions. An opportunity to show the world that Equatorial Guinea is progressing in state governance. “We are adopting radical measures to both reform public finances and the business climate at large in the country, while not shying away from the serious issues relating to youth and gender inequality, which remain priorities of the national political debate,” Cesar Mbah Abogo said.
“While ensuring our commitment to mutually beneficial prosperity and SME/individual empowerment in-country is a program that is adhered to across Ministries, including our budding travel and tourism sector, we also want to welcome all investors to join us in developing our resources and infrastructure for the benefit of our country and our present and future international partners.”
It should be noted here that Equatorial Guinea is the richest country per capita on the African continent and the third largest oil exporter. Crude oil and LNG exports have accounted for nearly 80% of the government’s revenues and 95% of its export income.
Equatorial Guinea also plays host to contemporary infrastructure, unrivaled ambiance welcoming travelers to a budding tourism industry and architecture truly indicative to both its culture and globalizing community.
Subsequently, the role of international forums in Malabo, such as ‘ETIS 2019’ is to showcase a dedication to diversification; investing in sectors such as mineral procurement and emanate a receptiveness to collaborating upon infrastructure development, such as seaports, airports, roadways and buildings, all the while ensuring that all who reside and operate in Equatorial Guinea are on its steady electrical grid. The country is also focusing on diversifying the economy by “…targeting sectors such as fisheries, agriculture, and finance, as well as reinforcing human capital and advancing technological progress,” according to a recent Forbes profile.
Whether Horizon 2020 will be deemed a success or a work-in-progress has yet to be determined. What is unequivocal is that there is a clear, concise and well-adhered to plan of action underway in a country which has shed antiquated geopolitical stereotypes of unaccountable governance and pursued prosperity for its diverse citizenry, fostering a replicable model of mutually beneficial investment for foreign audiences around the world.
It is in the hands of Equatorial Guinean leadership to ensure lasting change persists in 2019 and beyond.