By John Glassey*
For years, many believed that Equatorial Guinea was to forever be a textbook case of an emerging market nation suffering from the resource curse – or, as the BBC had famously put it, “…the paradox of plenty.” This prognosis was further compounded by the oil shock of 2015, which compromised the country’s very foundations.
However, under the stewardship of Equatorial Guinea's Minister of Economy, Finance and Planning, Cesar Mba Abogo, that mantra might be changing. It appears winds of socio-economic revitalization are in the air as a strong intranational (arguably) life-line has been granted to President Obiang Nguema’s government, with the potential to foment lasting change for generations to come.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is set to allocate to Equatorial Guinea SDR 205.009 million, equivalent to around US$282.8 million and encapsulating approximately 130% of the country’s quota from the Fund. Among other benchmarks, the boost should bolster efficiencies in public finance allocation, enhancing governmental infrastructure and accountability in program delivery, directly supporting the country’s ambitious ‘Horizonte 2020’ national development agenda, which nobly, according to a recent IMF Press Release, “aims at further reducing macroeconomic imbalances and addressing financial sector vulnerabilities”.
This is cause not just for commendation but for fresh investment intrigue for the intrepid international community, both public actors and those from the private sector. Despite the bevy of natural resources of which Equatorial Guinea is endowed, including lush flora and diverse fauna coupled with a dedication to preserving security within the only Spanish speaking country on the continent, there has previously been lingering social protection issues and those of economic diversification. These challenges have hindered ultimately human capital development in the country and the efforts of the Nguema Administration to foster more accountable governance. The about-face witnessed by the Administration in increasing transparency and fighting corruption will aid the nation’s overarching aim to advance; to progress holistically and achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the process.
Indeed if utilized accountably and efficiently, the IMF investment has the potential to lift Equatorial Guinea to new heights, presenting the country with an opportunity to diversify its economy, create new and improved social programs, begin to root out bureaucratic corruption sector on sector and set for the region a replicable benchmark, capable of flagging similar foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities throughout the
Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC).
I’ve spent decades working with Heads of State in attracting fresh eyes to the value proposition inherent in Africa’s emerging nations, including shrewd investment in its people, its next generation, its brightest and best. Patience has been a virtue here, in winning hearts and minds abroad and shifting often antiquated positions. The IMF is so too playing a waiting game, as indeed only SDR 29.287 million (roughly US$ 40.4 million) is to be released right away. The rest is contingent upon Equatorial Guinea meeting certain standards that are based on semi-annual reviews by the IMF Executive Board, those overseeing this particular Fund-supported program.
Equatorial Guinea must, and I have every assurance will continue to adhere to its recent track record of heightened transparency, stricter adherence to rule of law and improved-upon public financial management, having effectively stepped up its game amidst Africa’s perpetual, near-endemic fight against corruption.
Underneath the shield of Equatorial Guinea’s Coat of Arms is its national motto, ‘Unidad, Paz, Justicia’ or ‘Unity, Peace, Justice’. It’s adherence to the cause has unlocked international trepidation and reinforced the country’s predetermined roadmap and greater potential for prosperity.
This effective head-start is a milestone for Equatorial Guinea, a moment in time when the onus is upon governance to showcase to the world accountability in responsible development while fostering the prerequisite for greater transparency and good governance.
This could very well be the decade of dynamism in advancing Equatorial Guinea. It is now in their hands to create lasting change.
*John Glassey is the Founder and CEO of AfricanBrains, part of Brains Global , an organization determined to advance investment in education and promote technological innovations across the African continent. The views expressed are his own.