News / Africa

Equatorial Guinea Attracts Foreign Workers Despite Dictatorship

FILE - A construction worker carries timber at a housing project being built in an old cocoa-producing community just outside Equatorial Guinea's capital Malabo, February 5, 2014.
FILE - A construction worker carries timber at a housing project being built in an old cocoa-producing community just outside Equatorial Guinea's capital Malabo, February 5, 2014.
Equatorial Guinea. once among the poorest countries in the world, is attracting workers from Africa, Latin America and Europe due to its booming gas and petroleum sector. 

The Punto Europa gas plant on Bioko Island in the shadow of the capital, Malabo, was completed seven years ago, about a decade after Equatorial Guinea discovered huge quantities of gas and petroleum reserves.  

The plant refines 400,000 barrels per day of crude oil, methanol and liquified natural gas, one of the largest operations of its kind, according to Cameroonian-born gas exploration engineer Essono Jean, who has been working there for four years as production manager. He said it can only be compared with those in America.

Essono is one of the 230 foreigners at the plant, who make up the bulk of the 300 workers.

A view of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. (Moki Edwin Kindzeka/VOA)A view of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. (Moki Edwin Kindzeka/VOA)
x
A view of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. (Moki Edwin Kindzeka/VOA)
A view of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. (Moki Edwin Kindzeka/VOA)
The discovery of biofuels is transforming this small country of less than a million people into a huge construction site, attracting workers from all over the world.   

Mikes Oliveder told VOA that he left his native Brazil to work as a bridge construction engineer in Malabo because there are all kinds of job opportunities. 

"They are investing a lot in infrastructure, the roads, the buildings, developing their agriculture, health, so there is a lot of things here, not just the buildings," he explained.

All this investment has raised Equatorial Guinea's gross domestic product (GDP) to the highest in Africa, more than $24,000 per capita, according to the World Bank.

The traditional ruler of Nganmessock, near the port city of Bata, said Equatorial Guinea is witnessing a revolution.  

He said until recently, Equatorial Guinea was unknown and now all the investment means water, electricity and more.  He says under the president’s plan everyone will have access to basic necessities by 2020.

This revolution is certainly not political.  President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has been in power for nearly 35 years, since leading a coup.  

And many citizens will tell you that despite what the statistics say, they are not experiencing a revolution in their standard of living.

Nurse Ovam Didier, 34, says despite being trained in Nigeria, he can not get a job in the medical field.

"Most of the 800,000 people here in Equatorial Guinea have very poor standards of living whereas the government is wasting a lot of resources in building roads and other infrastructure.  For me they need to take a look, closer look at the basic necessities of the citizens," he said.

According to the World Bank statistics, 76 percent of the Equatorial Guinea's population is poor and 40 percent of rural residents lack water.

Many suspect the riches are ending up in the hands of the elite inner circle.  International watchdog groups have long criticized President Obiang for being repressive and leaving his country's people in poverty.

 A party leader with the opposition CPDS, Andreas Essono, said the main obstacle is the political system.

He said Equatorial Guinea is a dictatorship and freedom of expression is a serious problem and that even Equatorial Guinea State Radio dedicates almost all of its broadcast time to messages from President Obiang and his PDG party.

In a rare meeting with foreign journalists this past February in Malabo, President Obiang said he knows his international reputation, but that will not stop him from opening the country to foreign investment.

He said Equatorial Guinea is known as a country which disrespects democratic processes, violates human rights and practices corruption. But he said it is intent on leading Equatorial Guinea to be an emerging economy in the next five years.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More