With a poverty rate of more than 60%, Equatorial Guinea is one of the poorer nations on the planet. The small East African country is known for the vast oil reserves that make up the bulk of her exports. Due to the dependence on a single economic resource, the GDP of Equatorial Guinea is constantly battered by changes in oil prices. In addition, a reduction in crude oil output has placed the country at a disadvantage, sending the economy into a downward spiral.

As of 1993, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) withdrew all aid to Equatorial Guinea because of the corruption and inefficiency inherent in the government there. It is important to note that Equatorial Guinea is one of the main hubs of human trafficking on the African continent, and the government has done nothing to confront the problem. Many government officials in the country are actually involved in the trafficking business, which imports thousands of women and children each year for hard labor and sexual exploitation. This is only one example of the deep corruption that characterizes the political leadership of Equatorial Guinea.

The African Economic Outlook describes the situation succinctly, stating that “he country falls short of its economic and financial potential with high levels of poverty (more than 60%), limited access to drinking water and sewerage, and the prevalence of contagious diseases.” If the current state of affairs is to be understood, the United States should not provide aid to the poor in Equatorial Guinea unless that aid is delivered through an agency that is independent of the government there.

It is, however, important that the poor are educated in the arts of irrigation and sustainable agriculture because a more diversified economy will result in less dependency on a single export. Diversification is the answer. Hopefully, the developed nations of the world will figure out a way to provide quality, private agricultural education to Equatorial Guineans before it is too late.

– Josh Forgét
Source: African Economic OutlookCIA World Factbook
Photo: Human Rights Watch