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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid