Equatorial Guinea victory glosses over wealth gap
The son of Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasongo promised the country's football team a million dollars if they were to win the Africa Cup of Nations' opening football game.
Having secured that victory against Libya, Equatorial Guinea has encountered extra scrutiny about the excess wealth of the country's ruling elite. Despite its vast oil and other natural resources over 70% of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the Africa Economic Outlook.
Speaking to Duncan Bartlett on the BBC's World Business Report, Equatorial Guinea's Ambassador to the UK, Augustin Nze Nfumu, said that any allegations that the country's political classes were prospering at its citizens' expense were false.
Transcript is below.
Duncan Bartlett: You say it's a wealthy country and there obviously is oil wealth, and President Teodoro Obiang is said to be the sixth wealthiest leader in the world. And yet 77% of the people in your country live in poverty. So why is there a huge gap?
Agustin Nze Nfumu: Which is completely a lie, it's a lie completely.
Duncan Bartlett: So tell me what's the situation?
Agustin Nze Nfumu: And then Teodoro Obiang is not the sixth wealthy head of state, I mean leader of the world, which is a lie as well. I am categoric in that. And nobody has proven that and nobody can prove that. I challenge whoever would show that Teodoro Obiang is the sixth wealthy person in the world. I can challenge who can prove that.
Duncan Bartlett: So what do you think the figure is then?
Agustin Nze Nfumu: I am not here to give figures, but what I am saying is that it's a lie. People have to know exactly what Equatorial Guinea is today and what was that country 20 or 30 years ago. They are not making justice neither to the President and nor to the country in saying these type of things.
Duncan Bartlett: So how has the country changed then in 20 or 30 years? How have things improved for ordinary citizens?
Agustin Nze Nfumu: Everything has changed in that country, everything. I am saying that because I was in Equatorial Guinea during Macía's time. And I know what was that country in the '70s and then what the country is today. It's thousands of miles away of what it was 20 years ago, in social welfare, in infrastructure, in roads, electricity, housing, health, education, in everything.
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23 Jan 2012