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.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Equatorial Guinea’s Minister Of Social Affairs And Gender Equality Discusses Government’s Efforts To Combat Violence Against Women And Promote Gender Equality



Equatorial Guinea has made ending gender-based violence and promoting gender equality a policy priority, according to the country’s Minister of Social Affairs and Gender Equality, Mari Carmen Ecoro.  

Minister Ecoro discussed in a recent interview the efforts the government and the Ministry have undertaken to create awareness programs against violence and in favor of gender equality. During the interview, Minister Ecoro said the government has established legal mechanisms and developed awareness programs aimed at reducing—and eventually eliminating--violence against women.

The minister said that the country has made huge strides in gender equality since the overthrow of the Macias dictatorship in 1979. “When we look at women during the years of dictatorship, we saw that the woman did not have her own identity. But since 1979… the first call made by the President was to rebuild and provide our knowledge towards a better Guinea. He made an emphasis on women, for the woman to be trained and educated. When a woman is trained and educated, she can give more than when she is not.”

Today, she said, women are graduating from high schools and universities—in Equatorial Guinea and abroad on scholarships—in record numbers. “We used to lose girls in primary and secondary education,” Minister Ecoro said, “but today with a change in the law, girls can choose careers that were traditionally man dominant. That is a great advancement. In the business world, we see many women entrepreneurs.”

She said her government’s experience could serve as a model for the rest of Africa. “The countries of the African continent should take the example that is leading our country in the sense that we must continue to support women, but putting an emphasis on their education and training from an early age,” she said.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Equatorial Guinea Supports APPA Call To Reduce Worldwide Oil Production


Equatorial Guinea joined African Petroleum Producers Association (APPA) member countries on a joint action to reduce oil production and stabilize the market.

"We are reviewing our budget due to lower oil prices. We have supported these initiatives that allow us to study how to jointly stabilize prices in the future," said Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy of Equatorial Guinea, Gabriel Mbega Obiang Lima. He also recalled the importance of diversifying the economies of individual states in order to reduce dependence on oil, as the government of Equatorial Guinea is currently doing.

African countries rely on revenues from petroleum production to finance needed development, infrastructure improvements, and efforts to build robust economies and improve standards of living. APPA’s initiative seeks the support of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to reduce the amount of oil on the global market and consequently reach a stable world price at a higher level.

The APPA was created in 1987 in Lagos, Nigeria and is composed of eighteen countries, including Equatorial Guinea.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Equatorial Guinea To Host Equatorial Guinea-Asia Economic Forum


The Government of Equatorial Guinea will bring together political and business leaders to promote investment opportunities at the Equatorial Guinea-Asia economic forum, to be held in Dalian, China, on April 29-30.

"Equatorial Guinea has a rich and prosperous history of economic cooperation with Asia. The forum is a momentous occasion to visit old friends and forge new alliances. While Equatorial Guinea pushes forward ambitious plans for industrialization and economic diversification, we welcome investment in various sectors such as oil and gas, mining, agriculture and health," stated Gabriel Mbega Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy.

The Equatorial Guinea-Asia economic forum aims to connect leaders of Equatorial Guinea with the Asian investment community, as well as attract direct foreign investment and promote various sectors of the economy.

Equatorial Guinea and China have enjoyed good bilateral relations for 45 years. They have established sustainable trade and economic ties. Chinese investment has been heavily involved in the country’s industrialization and economic diversification plans, Horizon 2020 development plan. Chinese construction companies have played a significant role in building the new infrastructure funded by the Government of Equatorial Guinea, and the Chinese government has identified the modernization of the maritime sector, agriculture and development of the coastal economy as important areas for future cooperation.

President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and a delegation of Equatorial Guinea government ministers and directors will outline the opportunities for investment and hold talks with Chinese officials.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Equatorial Guinea Continues To Invest In Education And Health Sectors Despite Fluctuations In Oil Prices


The government of Equatorial Guinea continues to heavily invest its oil revenues in the country’s education and health sectors despite of the oil market prices fluctuations, said Secretary of State for Finance and Budgets, Milagrosa Obono Angue during the Sixth Conference of Diplomatic Missions held in Malabo from March 27-30, 2015.

Despite the current economic downturn the West African nation is currently experiencing due to worldwide decline in oil prices, Equatorial Guinea has made new oil discoveries along its coasts and has renewed contracts with oil companies operating in the country, such as Exxon Mobil. It is moving forward with its industrialization plan, which aims to create a guide for the development of sustainable industry and a diversified economy

The conference aimed to review the country’s foreign policy with the assistance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, diplomatic personnel and their dependents. “It also serves as an avenue to share experiences, concerns and difficulties, to receive the necessary guidance to analyze and strengthen the positions to defend the policy designed by the Government of Equatorial Guinea abroad,” said President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo during the opening ceremony.

The country has made the health and education sectors a top priority. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare launched the first malaria vaccine trial in partnership with Sanaria, a U.S. biotechnology company that produces a vaccine based on an approach to immunization that has already proven highly protective in humans, and the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI),Tanzania’s health research organization.

The country has an adult literacy rate of nearly 100%--the highest in Africa. The Ministry of Education has recently has partnered with StoneHill Education, an educational consultancy firm, to launch the American University of Central Africa in the city of Oyala, Equatorial Guinea, this fall.