Overview

Equatorial Guinea, the only former Spanish colony in Sub Saharan Africa, is composed of a mainland, Rio Muni, and small islands including Bioko where the capital Malabo is located, Annobon, Corisco, Elobey, and others. According to a 2007-08 United Nations estimate, it is one of the smallest countries on the continent with a population of 562,339 people. The country is bound on the north by Cameroon, east and south by Gabon, and west by the Gulf of Guinea. It is well endowed with arable land and mineral resources ranging from gold, oil, uranium, diamond, and columbite-tantalite, and notably petroleum discovered in the 1990s.

Political Overview

The president, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, is the longest-serving head of state in Sub-Saharan Africa and is expected to retain a tight grip on power. His position was bolstered by his landslide victory in the last presidential election in November 2009. The absence of real checks and balances grants his party (Partido democratico de Guinea Ecuatorial - PDGE) absolute executive power. The country’s constitution was amended following the November 2011 referendum establishing a parliament with the addition of a new 75-member Senate, 15 members of which will be appointed by the president.  A new government was appointed in May 2012. The legislative, senatorial and municipal elections are planned to be held in May 2013. Legalized opposition parties continue to voice their discontent of the country’s governance but their capacity to influence policy is limited.

Economic Overview

The country has been one of the fastest growing economies in Africa in the past decade, despite a marked slowdown during and after the global economic crisis of 2008-09. After the discovery of large oil reserves in the 1990s, Equatorial Guinea became the third-largest producer of oil in Sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria and Angola. More recently, substantial gas reserves have also been discovered. Hydrocarbon exports increased dramatically in value from US$190 million in 2000 to estimates between US$15 and 17 billion in 2012. Oil prices are forecast to decline modestly in 2013-14.

Strong inflows of foreign investment in the oil and gas sector, together with a sharp rise in oil exports and favorable terms of trade, have contributed to the country’s impressive gross domestic product (GDP) growth, including an average real annual growth rate of 27% from 1996 to 2008. A slowdown in hydrocarbon growth as well as lower world market prices during the global economic crisis of 2008-09 caused overall GDP growth to fall to an annual average of 3.6% between 2009 and 2012. The construction sector, fueled by an ambitious public investment program, has emerged as a significant source of economic activity and growth.

The oil boom has led to inflationary pressures, with an average annual inflation rate of 6.1% over the past decade. In 2011, Atlas gross national income (GNI) per capita was estimated at US$15,670. The government’s development agenda is guided by a medium-term strategy paper, the National Economic Development Plan: Horizon 2020, which targets economic diversification and poverty reduction. The first phase of Horizon 2020, focused on infrastructure development, was concluded in 2012 and the second phase will focus on economic diversification into strategic new sectors such as fisheries, agriculture, tourism and finance.

 As the country moves into the second phase of the National Development Plan, the government is planning to redirect public investment from infrastructure towards the development of new economic sectors.

The lack of available data persists and makes it difficult to track progress on socioeconomic indicators. A World Bank Public Expenditure Review carried out in 2010 recommended a reallocation of resources towards human development, especially education and health.

Last Updated: Feb 01, 2013

Currently, Equatorial Guinea, an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) country, has no lending program with the Bank. However, Technical Assistance has been provided since 2007 under a Service Agreement including the preparation of a Public Expenditure Review (PER), support towards the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and statistical capacity building to prepare the National Accounts.

In the margins of the African Union Summit in July 2011, a second Service Agreement has been recently signed in order to help Equatorial Guinea to implement its National Development Plan (Horizon 2020). This Technical Assistance will build upon work prepared to date and include: (i) continued statistical support to prepare the national accounts, (ii) support to improve debt management, including a diagnostic and a reform plan; and (iii) an analysis of the sources of growth, including an enterprise survey to assess the investment climate. The Bank will also support the Government’s plans to qualify for EITI compliance through: (i) advising on effective participation of civil society in the process, and (ii) modifying legislation to encourage interaction with other local and international organizations.

Last Updated: Feb 01, 2013

The oil boom has not yet been translated into positive human development outcomes, which remain poor, as evidenced by the low human development index ranking (117th out of 169 countries in 2010).

Despite abundant petroleum revenues, the standard of living of the majority of the population has not been significantly affected and poverty is widespread. Indications are that about three out of four people live with less than two dollars per day; about half the population does not have access to drinking water or sewage facilities. Between 1995 and 2000, approximately 16 percent of children under age five were malnourished. In education, the relatively low gross enrollment rate in primary education throws doubts on the capacity of Equatorial Guinea to reach the MDG of universal primary education by 2015.

Equatorial Guinea has been relatively stable in the Central African region, and joined the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) in 1985.

Last Updated: Feb 01, 2013

Main partners in the country are the United States, Spain, France, and China. The World Bank works closely with Equatorial Guinea through its office in Libreville, Gabon.

Last Updated: Feb 01, 2013


LENDING

Equatorial Guinea: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments