Thursday, June 25, 2015

Equatorial Guinea Partners With Microsoft To Computerize Public Administration Of The Nation

Agreement Marks Milestone in the Country’s Efforts to Advance its Public Administration 

The government of Equatorial Guinea has partnered with American company, Microsoft, to computerize the public administration of the country.

This milestone agreement is part of the West African nation’s efforts to achieve the goals set forth in the Horizon 2020 Development Plan. The government is investing the country’s resources to become an emergent economy by implementing aggressive initiatives.

Microsoft will be working closely with the Board of the National Center for Public Administration of the Computerization of Equatorial Guinea (CNIAPGE) in the computerization of the country’s public administration. The agreement took place on June 23.

Equatorial Guinea is Polio-Free, International Health Experts Report

Independent experts from several different organizations have declared the central African country to be free of the wild poliovirus, which causes poliomyelitis.

The experts, from the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, arrived in Equatorial Guinea on June 4 to assess the county’s efforts to stem the spread of poliomyelitis.

The disease entered the country from Cameroon in the first quarter of 2015, and international laboratories had confirmed five cases. The government of Equatorial Guinea quickly declared the polio epidemic a national public health emergency and launched eight campaigns to educate and immunize the population and conduct epidemiological surveillance and research. In the process, the country’s systems for epidemiological surveillance and routine vaccinations were strengthened.

On May 14, during the relaunching of the National Vaccination Campaign against Poliomyelitis, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Juan Ndong Nguema, stressed the importance that the Government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea gives to the health sector, as cornerstone of human development.

The World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory reported that Equatorial Guinea spends more per capita on health and healthcare that any other country in Africa, a total of USD 555 in 2013.

Results Of Obiang’s China Visit Are A Triumph For Equatorial Guinea’s Diplomacy

China to help finance power production and industrial development as part of overall strengthening of ties.  

Equatorial Guinea’s president, Obiang Nguema Mbasoso, returned to his west African country after a five-day state visit to China with financing for his ambitious development program, the promise of closer cooperation with China, and a boost to his position as an emerging leader in Africa.

China rolled out the red carpet for Obiang during five days of meetings and ceremonies with the country’s top leaders, and Equatorial Guinea showcased investment opportunities to a conference of business executives from throughout Asia.

The visit was a highlight of Equatorial Guinea’s diplomacy, which over the last few years has been characterized by greater leadership in Africa, targeted engagement outside the region, and success in attracting foreign investment.

Equatorial Guinea signed several agreements with Chinese companies to increase generation of electrical power and develop its industrial sector, a key goal of the government’s plan to diversify its economy and reduce dependence on oil production. The largest was a $2 billion agreement with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China's biggest lender by assets, to providing financial support to Equatorial Guinea's government and Chinese businesses operating in the country.

That agreement was signed on April 30 following a meeting in Beijing between Obiang and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping.

45 Years of Diplomatic Relations

The two nations also commemorated the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations attended by China's top political advisor, Yu Zhengsheng, and President Obiang at which Yu praised the “strong friendship” the two nations have developed in the past 45 years. Equatorial Guinea became an independent nation in 1968.

China has sent about 500 medical workers to Equatorial Guinea over the past four decades. Equatorial Guinea donated one million euros to Sichuan Province following the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008. Equatorial Guinea has also contributed cash to relief efforts after disasters and humanitarian emergencies in Ethiopia, Japan, Haiti and the Congo Republic.
During the reception, Yu and Obiang jointly inaugurated the China-Equatorial Guinea Friendship Primary School, which will be built in Yunnan's Jinping County with funding from Equatorial Guinea. The nations also signed an agreement to jointly build schools in China and Equatorial Guinea.

Obiang thanked China for its assistance to Equatorial Guinea, saying his country is willing to beef up cooperation with China in areas including the economy and trade, finance and personnel training. Equatorial Guinea hopes for support from China in its industrialization process and welcomes investment from Chinese companies, said the president.

“The establishment of various cooperation agreements and continuous partnership between Equatorial Guinea and China marks a transcendental point for our bilateral relations and our commitment to promoting and extending the cooperation for the mutual benefit of our nations,” Obiang said. 

China Sees “Bright” Prospects for Development

Several Chinese firms are among the many foreign companies working on the various infrastructure-development projects in Equatorial Guinea, and the agreements were a clear signal by the Chinese government that it sees strong potential in the way the central African country is managing its development.

“Equatorial Guinea is a central African country that has developed relatively well,” said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who held separate talks with President Obiang on April 29. “The government in recent years has supported expanded investment into infrastructure development, and the need for infrastructure projects is enormous. There are growing numbers of cooperation areas between our two countries, and the prospects are very bright.”

In addition, Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy signed three memoranda of understanding (MOU) to develop projects in the country, including one with the China Dalian International Cooperation Group (CDIG) to start preliminary technical studies for developing the western industrial city of Mbini.

Mbini, which lies on the mouth of the Benito River close to the country’s coast, is “planned to be a key reference point for investment in West Africa and an important component in Equatorial Guinea's plans to diversify its economy,” the ministry said in a statement.

In other agreements, the China State Construction Engineering Corporation will support the development of a planned petroleum industrial facility in the city of Luba, which, like the capital, is located on Bioko Island. Already an important oil port, the expanded and redesigned port in Luba will be the logistics hub for the oil and gas industry and other industrial activities.

The ministry said that it will work with China’s Sinohydro Corporation on a feasibility study for a new hydroelectric plant on Equatorial Guinea’s Wele River. Equatorial Guinea’s investment in power generation has paid off, and electricity is now available throughout the national territory. The new plant will allow for growth and increased industrial production.

Importantly, Chinese leaders also pledged to support training programs that Equatorial Guinea hopes will develop industrial skills and improve local capacity to manage and develop home-grown industries.

Investment Forum

During the visit, the Government of Equatorial Guinea also hosted the Equatorial Guinea-Asia Economic Forum jointly with the government of Dalian, an opportunity for investors in Asia to meet the country’s leadership and learn about the top investment opportunities. President Obiang delivered the forum’s keynote address, and the economic ministers gave briefings on their sectors.

The government emphasized key investment opportunities available in Horizon 2020, the development plan to diversify the economy and promote industrialization.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Equatorial Guinea’s Capital Is In A Constant State Of Improvement, Says Malabo’s Mayor

The capital city of Equatorial Guinea, Malabo, is in a state of constant improvement, says Mayor Maria Coloma Edjang Bengono. Every year, it seems to be cleaner, bigger, more modern, and more orderly.

The mayor of Malabo discussed in a recent interview the capital’s continual improvement and the city government’s major accomplishments. “What you have seen today is not what you will see tomorrow because the government of the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea [governing party] is constantly working to improve not only the capital city of Malabo but the country as a whole.”

She said that the residents of Malabo now have water, power, roads, and a sewage system. The government has already designed these projects and they are already running. “Our most important goal is to make sure all these services reach all citizens. Now our goal is for every citizen to have water, power, and environment sanitation access, among other things in their homes. That's the main goal because the most important thing for a human being is water and then later come the other things. There is potable water, and now this year’s goal is for every citizen to have it [in their homes].”

 “The biggest challenge I have had as mayor has been to clean this city, because it was decaying. My biggest challenge was to educate the people on how to handle the garbage and how to make the city clean. Where there is hygiene, there is life. I feel very proud to have an increasingly clean city.”

Monday, April 27, 2015

Equatorial Guinea’s Minister Of Social Affairs And Gender Equality Discusses Ministry’s Initiative To Build Social Assistance Centers

The Government of Equatorial Guinea has designed a project to fund social development in order to better assist the country’s elderly population.

Mari Carmen Ecoro, Minister of Social Affairs and Gender Equality, discussed in a recent interview the Ministry’s initiative to build social assistance centers. “We have invited companies to provide designs as terms of reference on how to build a social center. A social center must have programs that meet the needs of society.”

Minister Ecoro said the project will place an emphasis on the elderly. “Often times we keep them at home due to our culture, and they do not go out or have activities. A social center can serve as a morning services center, where they are picked up in a bus and go to the center to learn art, dance, celebrate their birthdays, or reconnect with others they may not have seen in years.

She continued to say that if the elderly attending the social centers do not have access to medical services, they may receive medical attention there. “They will find doctors, dentists, opticians, etc., that can provide these free services. It would be a way to make their lives dignified.”

When talking about the children and youth, she said, “There are many who have no recreation. ... After school they can go to these centers to learn something new or study with mentors who can help them with homework. They can also have food without being asked about their economic status.”

A woman with low income can also go to these centers and receive social assistance. Minister Ecoro said, “The center will help her help herself. These centers are very important for this ministry and the people of Equatorial Guinea to serve as the first place one goes when one seeks information, help, support, etc.”

These projects have been redefined. The Ministry is about to present this project to the government to assess whether the conditions and the terms of reference are in line with the requirements set forth by the World Bank and the nation’s development plan, known as Horizon 2020. They hope to provide these centers in their all seven provinces.

During the interview, Minister Ecoro also discussed the country’s initiatives to create better conditions for the disabled. The Minister said the country’s First Lady, Constancia Mangue de Obiang, supports this sector. “She has built homes, has donated tricycles.” She talked about the social struggle the country experiences to integrate this vulnerable social group into society. “A senator who has a disability was recently appointed. It's similar to the trajectory of women. After ensuring that women are educated and prepared, the second priority is to give people with disabilities a better place in society. A lot has been done, but there is still much left to do. It is a minority that must be represented in all sectors.”

Friday, April 24, 2015

Women In Equatorial Guinea Have Strong Leadership Role In Government And Business, Say Top Women Political Leaders

Women in Equatorial Guinea are playing a major role in government and the private sector, say two of the country’s top women leaders. While the United Nations recently criticized the lack of women in leadership positions in most countries, women in Equatorial Guinea have long been present at senior levels, according to Mari Carmen Ecoro, Minister of Social Affairs and Gender Equality, and Maria Coloma Edjang Bengono, Mayor of Malabo.  

Minister Ecoro said in a recent interview that her government has many women in political leadership positions due to the country’s community spirit and the president’s personal commitment to gender equality. “The president of the republic says that everyone has value. [A woman] should be trained and given the opportunity to contribute as a member of society. Maybe that's where [Equatorial] Guinea should be a model,” she said.

Minister Ecoro said there is a struggle; there are still things to improve. “The change must always be continuous, from generation to generation. I am glad that [Equatorial] Guinea can be distinguished as a leader in integrating women in political decision-making positions. There is still much to be done but we are making strides.”

Mayor Edjang Bengono also discussed Equatorial Guinea’s efforts to place women in political leadership positions. The mayor said the government follows the example President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo sets in showing how he values women in the country. “In the first place, the president respects his wife as a woman and he wants to see the importance he sees in his wife in every woman, wants all women to have the same rights as a man because here there is gender equality.”

She said 2015 is the year of empowerment, and the government is giving citizens the strength to see that they are all needed, both women and men. “It gives us opportunities in the sense that everyone is equal in their chosen field. Equal opportunities, equal rights.”

Equatorial Guinea has heavily invested in education and training for its citizens, for both men and women. Mayor Edjang Bengono said that it was critical for women to be educated and trained, and that the country counts on women in political leadership positions. “He [President Obiang] has always advised the woman to be educated and trained so she doesn’t have to depend on a man… There are women in Parliament, there are women in the Senate, the Senate president is a woman, there are women in government, there are women in the [governing] political party. There are women in all social sectors and government departments. We do not have that problem. We are given importance in this country,” she said.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Equatorial Guinea Participates In Obangame Express

The Government of Equatorial Guinea joined maritime forces from Gulf of Guinea nations, Europe, South America, and the United States, and several regional and international organizations at the Obangame Express 2015 exercise to learn collaborative opportunities that address maritime security concerns.

Equatorial Guinea’s exclusive maritime economic zone is ten times larger than its landmass, with vast potential for fisheries. The Government recognizes the strategic importance of promoting safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea region -- for stakeholders, multinational oil and gas companies, and surrounding oil producing nations.

President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo called on the Gulf of Guinea heads of state to maintain stronger vigilance and create a maritime security body in order to overcome security and stability issues affecting the zone and for closer relations with international organizations to face the challenges affecting the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) during the third Summit of Heads of State of the GGC.

“Having a strong and effective Gulf of Guinea Commission is the only alternative for our region to overcome the problems it currently faces, to ensure the welfare of their people, peace and security in the maritime and land zones of the Gulf of Guinea,” said President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

Obangame Express is a U.S. Africa Command-sponsored multinational maritime exercise aimed to increase maritime safety and security, improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness (MDA), information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.

Equatorial Guinea's Maritime Security Enhancement Program, launched several years ago, is designed to provide nationwide coastal surveillance coverage and long-term stability for the entire region. It is a part of Equatorial Guinea's commitment to contributing to the positive development and security in its part of West Africa.

This year’s participating nations in Obangame Express 2015 included Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Spain, Togo, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). The exercise was held in Ghana on March 19-27.