Africa

IMF approves $67M emergency support for Equatorial Guinea

Bata explosions, COVID-19 pandemic have inflicted heavy human, economic damage, says lender

James Tasamba   | 16.09.2021
IMF approves $67M emergency support for Equatorial Guinea

KIGALI, Rwanda

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Thursday it approved $67 million emergency support for Equatorial Guinea to help it deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and explosions at a military base.

“The Bata explosion and still unfolding COVID-19 pandemic have inflicted heavy damage on Equatorial Guinea, substantially weakening the prospects for economic evolution, increasing economic and financial difficulties, and seriously affecting the incomes of a large part of the population,” the IMF said in a statement.

The explosions at a depot in a military barracks, which destroyed much of the mainland city of Bata, left 105 people dead in March.

“What is strange though is that the country is endowed with oil and other natural resources. The president of Equatorial Guinea is one of the richest in Africa. His son is the vice president with assets in the US and Europe. But the country remains poor and can depend on IMF funding,” Oscar Kimanuka, a Kigali-based political analyst, told Anadolu Agency.

After Nigeria and Angola, Equatorial Guinea ranks second among Africa’s oil producers alongside Sudan, South Sudan and neighbors the Republic of the Congo and Gabon.

The pandemic and the explosions increased external financing needs in the balance of payments by $625 million, representing 5% of the gross domestic product this year, according to the IMF.

It added that in view of the double shocks the government reacted “adequately” by increasing health spending and promoting social assistance.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, 79, has ruled Equatorial Guinea for more than 41 years.

France’s highest appeal court in July upheld a guilty verdict in embezzlement charges against Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is also the president’s son, paving the way for the potential return of tens of millions of dollars for redistribution to citizens of the West African country.

Mangue, 52, was handed a three-year suspended sentence and fined €30 million ($33 million) in absentia in 2020 and his luxury assets were confiscated.

French judicial authorities estimated that he laundered roughly €150 million to build up the assets which include a luxury residence reportedly located on Avenue Foch in Paris – featuring 101 rooms, a gym, a hair-dressing studio, and a disco with a cinema screen.

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