Ministry of Health unveils new national healthcare strategy

On Tuesday 25 February, a new strategy on Primary Health Care was announced by the Ministry of Health at the School of Medicine in Bata. The new strategy aims to improve health infrastructure across the country by training new community health assistants and opening new health centres and district hospitals.

Child About To Get An Injection

The Minister of Health, Diosdada Vicente Nsue Milam, chaired the presentation of the strategy, calling on all Ministry staff to work together to ensure the smooth implementation of new local health services. During his speech, the Minister said that the new strategy is the way forward “for improving health care, health indicators and the improvement of life in Equatorial Guinea”. He added that “it represents the first level of contact of individuals, the family and the community with the national health system, bringing health care closer to the place of residence and work.”

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Plans progress for new oil and gas projects in Equatorial Guinea

International oil and gas exploration company Ophir Energy has reported significant progress in commercialising Equatorial Guinea’s gas resources. The company – which has extensive operations in Equatorial Guinea – is developing a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessel in partnership with the Equatoguinean government and oil and gas services company Petrofac.

In a press release, Ophir Energy confirmed that a non-binding letter of intent has been signed with Petrofac to provide operating services to the proposed LNG development. Ophir is working together with Ophir Energythe Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy to review the planning process for the LNG project, with a Memorandum of Understanding to be released when the planning review process is completed.

Additionally, Gabriel Mbega Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy, has signed a new project agreement for the construction of a new petrochemical complex in Riaba. Japanese transport company Mitsui OSK Lines has also been awarded a contract for the construction of two new methanol carriers from the Equatorial Guinea-based methanol producer Atlantic Methanol Production Company (AMPCO).

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Equatorial Guinea to join the Community of Portuguese Language Countries

Equatorial Guinea is the join the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) as a full member. Foreign Ministers of CPLP member states met in Maputo, Mozambique on Friday, during which they discussed Equatorial Guinea’s acceptance into the organisation.

The emblem of the CPLP

José Luis Guterres, Foreign Minister for East Timor, said that he supported Equatorial Guinea’s membership with enthusiasm, noting that the main conditions for entry had been met. Cape Verde’s Foreign Minister Jorge Borges also added his support to the announcement.

Portuguese is one of Equatorial Guinea’s official languages and is being promoted through educational and cultural initiatives. As a full member of the CPLP, Equatorial Guinea joins Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and East Timor.

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Human rights minister meets with Moroccan Ambassador over refugee camps

On Thursday 13 February, Alfonso Nsue Mokuy, the Third Deputy Prime Minister for Human Rights, met with Hilali Jilal, Extraordinary Ambassador and Plenipotentiary of Morocco. H.E. Jilal met with Minister Nsue Mokuy to discuss concerns over the human rights situation in refugee camps in Tinduz, Algeria. Morocco has requested Equatorial Guinea’s support in raising these concerns with international human rights bodies.

Deputy Prime Minister for Human Rights Alfonso Nsue Mokuy

The meeting was also attended by the Director-General of Human Rights, Manuel Mba Nchama. During the meeting, Minister Nsue Mokuy vowed to raise the issue of the Tinduz refugee camps at the next international human rights summit.

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Preparations begin for upcoming summits and international events

Preparations are underway for several international events taking place in Equatorial Guinea over the next few months and years. Created by presidential order last week, the Summit and Conference Organisation Committee held its first meeting on Friday, 14 February to start planning for the African Union (AU) Summit in June, the Turkey-Africa Summit in November and the African-Arab World Summit scheduled for 2016.

AU Flag

Friday’s Committee meeting was led by Agapito Mba Mokuy, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. Teobaldo Nchaso Matomba, Minister of Information, Press and Radio, also attended the meeting to oversee communication between different ministries and government representatives within the Committee.

At the meeting they discussed several planning issues for the coming summits to be held, among which are:

The African Union Summit, which will take place on June 20 and 27.

The delivery of UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea Prize for Research in Life Sciences, in September.

The Turkey-Africa Summit, planned for November.

Meanwile, for the year 2016, the holding of the African-Arab World Summit is expected.

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President Obiang receives first UK Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea

On Thursday 13 February the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom, H.E Brian Olley, was received by the President of Equatorial Guinea during an official event at the People’s Palace in Malabo. Mr Olley, who resides in Yaoundé, Cameroon, presented his letter of credence to President Obiang which was duly accepted. This marks the first such appointment to Equatorial Guinea by the United Kingdom.

H.E. Brian Olley

The letter of credence is an official document from Her Majesty The Queen, as UK Head of State.  It formally grants diplomatic accreditation to Mr Olley as Her Majesty’s Government’s official representative with ambassadorial responsibility for Equatorial Guinea.

Mr Olley was appointed to be the British High Commissioner to Equatorial Guinea’s neighbouring Cameroon in September 2013.  Prior to this, he served as the Deputy High Commissioner in Cyprus. His Foreign and Commonwealth Office career has covered a wide range of roles including work in Afghanistan and Finland. Mr Olley started his career in Her Majesty’s Forces where he served in New York (on secondment to the United Nations), as well as Hong Kong, Nepal, Germany, and Canada.

The new Ambassador of South Africa, Victor Rambau, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Adadu Echi, and the Ambassador of Australia in Equatorial Guinea, Jane Maria Handy, also presented their credential letters to the Minister of Foreign Affairs during the ceremony.

Her Excellency Mari-Cruz Evuna Andeme, Equatorial Guinea’s Ambassador in London commented:  “This strengthening of ties is a significant step in the development of bilateral relations between Equatorial Guinea and the United Kingdom. I look forward to seeing this relationship continue to grow for the benefit of citizens in both countries.”

President Obiang meets with key international investors

President Obiang held several meetings with high-profile international investors visiting Malabo for the economic symposium ‘Emerging Equatorial Guinea’ including Souad Elmallem, Head of the Canadian manufacturing company Bombardier, which recently won the contract for London’s new Crossrail train network.

Flag of Equatorial Guinea

President Obiang also held meetings with Mehmet Nazif Gunal, President of the Turkish company MGN Holding; Phil Heilberg, President of the American company Jarch Capital; Pascal Drouhaud, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa Deputy Director of Alstom International; Oscar Lopez Salvador, Aresa International; Juan Madrigal, Central Africa Director for FCC and Yariv El Baz, President of YCAP.

The executives thanked President Obiang for welcoming them to the forum and giving them the opportunity to learn more about the investment opportunities in Equatorial Guinea, especially in the infrastructure, transport, fishing, mining and energy sectors.

Poverty statistics for Equatorial Guinea are outdated, says World Bank and IMF Experts

Perceptions of Equatorial Guinea are skewed by outdated statistical data, said representatives of the World Bank and IMF participating in a panel at the Emerging Equatorial Guinea conference in Malabo this Wednesday. “Statistics about Equatorial Guinea are very much outdated, particularly poverty numbers,” said Gregor Binkert, World Bank country director for West Africa. “Some of the figures [cited in public sources] are from as far back as ’05 or ’06,” he said. He added that the World Bank would support the establishment of an official statistics institute and a system for collecting and analysing statistics in Equatorial Guinea.  Jon Shields, the International Monetary Fund’s mission chief for Equatorial Guinea, agreed with the need to “start collecting statistics and to look at the reliability of the statistics we have.”

The government of Equatorial Guinea has long disputed statistics that claim that the vast majority of its population is extremely poor. Many expatriates and visitors to the country have noted that, while poverty exists, there is no anecdotal evidence to support the kinds of statistics that are generally repeated in news and other reports.  Shields believes that statistics need to be gathered to analyse and improve public expenditure—to determine whether it is sustainable and sufficiently controlled, and how it can be improved.

Both men agreed that the lack of reliable statistics is a problem throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but it is particularly acute in Equatorial Guinea, which has experienced enormous growth and development over the past ten years. Binkert called Equatorial Guinea’s physical infrastructure, which has had heavy investment from the country’s petroleum revenues, “impressive”.  He added that he thinks that Equatorial Guinea has entered a period in which it should place greater emphasis on social investments such as public health and education. He said that the government had been spending to improve medical care but now needs to shift its emphasis: “Hospitals have been built, but there is a need to develop a full health system.”

Binkert said that the World Bank will develop programs to encourage Equatorial Guinea to study other countries that have transformed their economies or have other experiences that can be helpful, such as South Korea, Singapore, Colombia and Costa Rica. These programs would include visits, exchanges and twinning that pairs Equatorial Guinean institutions with those from other countries.

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Economic experts praise Equatorial Guinea’s positive investment climate

Experts attending the Emerging Equatorial Guinea conference have cited the country’s excellent political stability, growing infrastructure, firm financial controls and fair treatment of investors as signs of the country’s attractive investment climate.Flag of Equatorial Guinea

Lucas Abaga Nchama, President of the Central Bank of Central Africa, praised Equatorial Guinea’s strong currency and regulatory environment. “Equatorial Guinea is really the place where investors will find no risk” he said, calling the country “a bridge to a market of 43 million.”

Rodrigo de Rato, former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and former Spanish Economic Minister, praised Equatorial Guinea’s investment in infrastructure. He highlighted the role of new institutions such as the Court of Accounts in increasing transparency in the country, and encouraged the government to continue in its plans to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, as well as increasing spending in health and education.

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Equatorial Guinea announces $1 billion investment drive

During the first day of the Emerging Equatorial Guinea investment conference yesterday, the government of Equatorial Guinea announced that it will allocate $1 billion in funding for foreign investment initiatives, to be rolled-out over the next few years.Bank Buildings

Finance Minister Marcelino Owono Edu said that the fund will help facilitate investments with private partners, especially in non-energy sectors such as agriculture, petrochemicals, mining, tourism and financial services. These investments will be part of the government’s plans to diversify the country’s economy and attract more foreign businesses to Equatorial Guinea.

Minister Edu added that a new state entity, Holdings Equatorial Guinea 2020, will be set-up to guide the government’s diversification strategy. The Minister also stated that the government is spending more on education and health, with 35% of the 2014 budget earmarked for social investment, compared to 13% last year.

Opening the symposium at the Sipopo Conference Centre in Malabo yesterday, President Obiang told delegates that the diversification drive marks the next phase in Equatorial Guinea’s Horizon 2020 development programme. “Equatorial Guinea is today a fertile ground for private investment”, the President said, emphasising the country’s continued peace and stability as well as its attractive business climate.

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