Equatorial Guinea is a small country off West Africa which has recently struck oil and which is now being cited as a textbook case of the resource curse – or the paradox of plenty.
BBC 19 July 2011
Police swooped on his £15 million mansion on the prestigious Avenue Foch, close to the Arc de Triumphe, this morning, piling all of the vehicles on to a car transporter. They are all thought to be ‘ill-gotten gains’ bought so as to hide huge amounts of cash smuggled into France from Africa, said a police source.
MailOnline, 1st October 2011
One of the earliest publications on OMF blog explored whether Black man is his own worst enemy. Unfolding events in Africa and the behaviours of African leaderships continue to reinforce that question and its importance. Over the years, in an effort to explain why Africa and Africans have remained poor despite abundant natural resources, and over $17 trillion of aid to sub-Sahara Africa since 1985, some have blamed the White man, slavery and the effects of colonization. Cases, such as you are about to read, funnel such arguments to the waste-bin or at least weaken the potency.
Equatorial Guinea is a small West African state, a former Spanish colony and one of the biggest oil producers in the region. Following the discovery of oil, per capita income rose from about $590 in 1998 to approximately $37,900 in 2010. “However, few people have benefited from the oil riches and the country ranks near the bottom of the UN human development index. The UN says that less than half the population has access to clean drinking water and that 20 percent of children die before reaching five” (BBC).
The country’s president is Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo who seized power in 1979. The president has been accused of dictatorship and self enrichment at the expense of his people by the Human Rights Watch. In 2004 the “US Senate investigation into the Washington-based Riggs Bank found that President Obiang’s family had received huge payments from US oil companies such as Exxon Mobil and Amerada Hess” (BBC). Equatorial Guinea ranks among the top 12 most corrupt states in the world (Transparency International).
In 2008, President Teodore Obiang Nguema proposed to UNESCO the creation of a $3 million “Life Sciences Prize” in his own name. The organisation initially agreed to the proposal but was forced to suspend the idea “as outrage erupted over the provenance of the money and accusations of abuses by Obiang against his people”. To save the president from embarrassment, UNESCO’s director-general appealed directly to him to withdraw his offer. At a lavish summit in Equatorial Guinea earlier this year, President Obiang, who currently chairs the African Union, “persuaded the bloc to pass a motion calling on UNESCO to approve the prize in his name” (ABC News).
Today, Equatorial Guinea continues to make embarrassing headlines with the news that 11 super-cars worth up to £5 million have been seized from outside President Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s £15 million Paris mansion, as part of a foreign aid money-laundering investigation (MailOnline.co.uk). Cars impounded include, an Aston Martin V8 600lm, Rolls-Royce Drophead Coupe, a Porsche Carrera GT, and a Ferrari Enzo, and various Bentleys. Video 1 below provides a visual and irrefutable evidence of that police raid.
Maserati MC12 + Aston Martin V8 V600 LM + Carrera GT seized by the pol
In response to this news, a reader posted the following comment on Mailonline.co.uk :
And that is precisely why I give nothing to Save the Children and other African Aid charities. The dictators who run them have more than enough money and should share that around. I always remember our local community nurse in the UK. she and her husband had worked in Africa for a number of years. She recalls a lot of aid packages, still in their wrappers, were sold in local supermarkets.
What a shame! At a time when Africans are starving in Somalia and other places, and appeal has gone to nations and peoples to provide aid, the timing of this revelation should be embarrassing not only to the people and government of Equatorial Guinea but also to Africans and the Black race in general. The West and USA should also share in the embarrassment. These powerful countries keep a blind eye to the looting of African treasures. Only when it serves their purpose that action is taken. For example, in a matter of hours rather than days, the West/USA identified and froze the assets of President Hosni Mubarak, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, and the Ivory Coast strongman President Laurent Gbagbo, in support of their national/political agendas. European and US citizens are not surprised by the unspeakable and disgraceful behaviour of African leaders and the underlying reasons behind it. The following comment says it all:
The West has poured trillions of dollars into Africa with no response to elevating the poor people. For every good liberal thought there is corruption behind it. Trust me on this one; whatever money we dump into these countries, our politicians know it all get back to them in one way or another. This was never about helping the poor, it was just a slush fund to the dictators, who would come around again and pay back just 1 cent on the dollar for elections in the West to go their way.
AustinBlossoms, Austin, Texas
It is important to remind donor nations and philanthropic individuals /organisations of what foreign aid has achieved in developing countries, where and when employed as intended. Let’s not forget the 1984 famine in Ethiopia and the lives saved through the generosity of Europe/USA. Let’s not forget the work of Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure (Live Aid) and Michael Jackson/ Lionel Richie ( We Are The World). Let’s not forget lives currently being saved in Somalia as a result of the kindness and generosity of people of the world. The world should not be discouraged by the behaviours of leaders such as President Obiang. In most cases, the wealth being squandered come from the resources of their nations rather than foreign aid, a point emphasised in the following posting on MailOnline:
With respect to some comments here, though I am disgusted by the Obiang’s pathological urge for kleptomania and amassing of wealth; PLEASE LET IT BE KNOWN THAT THE MONEY BEING SQUANDERED AS IN THIS CASE, DOES NOT COME FROM FINANCIAL AID FROM EUROPE OR ELSEWHERE. It is actually from Equatorial Guineans’ natural resources of which, they have in abundance. In fact there are only a few countries in Europe whose GDP is higher than Equatorial Guinea’s. Anyone who thinks the Equatorial Guineans have any need for British/European financial aid, with due respect, that person is publicising ignorance of epic proportion. Notwithstanding, I am not surprised some people with far right & racist views have tried to capitalize on this News & wrongly portray aid as wasteful. European aid projects have done wonders in Africa & still doing so. Let’s hope Europeans can further assist Africa in fighting corruption by stopping the ruling class from stealing & stashing their money in Europe.
Having said that, the question to Africans remians – How much longer should Europe/USA continue to babysit Africa and its people? The concept of independent African states is fast becoming meaningless. This featured story and many more like it, hardly exemplify the fruit of independence. God please intervene and bless us with true leaders.