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Equatorial Guinea Country Report

Country Risk Level

Medium

Overview

Executive Summary

President Obiang Nguema's re-election in April 2016 with 94% of the vote, the ruling PDGE's victory in the November 2017 legislative and municipal elections, and reshuffling of key government portfolios cement the Obiang family's control over the levers of power. This control is strengthened further by family members’ holding of key government positions. President Obiang's son Teodoro Obiang Mangue (Teodorín) is the second vice-president and heir-apparent, whereas another son, Gabriel Obiang Lima, is the minister of mines, industry, and energy.Despite a challenging economic situation caused by COVID-19, social unrest and protests remain rare because of the heavy-handedness of the security forces, the threat of reprisals, incarceration, and the lack of a well-organised opposition. Opposition members are routinely harassed and arrested arbitrarily, and the December 2017 coup attempt has accelerated repression of political opposition.The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in December 2019 approved a USD300-million financial assistance package under its Extended Fund Facility. Reforms proposed under the IMF programme include supporting economic diversification, promoting good governance, and transparency. Investments in major downstream infrastructural projects to diversify the economy and stem the decline in oil production and revenue are likely slow due to COVID-19; local content is likely to be enforced strictly under revised petroleum regulations (Regulation No 2/2020).The government announced in February 2020 that it is publishing its model and production contracts for the extractives industry. Other reforms include an asset-declaration regime applicable to all senior government officials. The package is likely to strengthen investor confidence and support the country's economic diversification drive. Equatorial Guinea’s economy had been struggling even before the advent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the sharp fall in global oil prices. We now expect real GDP growth to contract 7.7% and 6.8% in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Equatorial Guinea’s weakened fiscal balances increase the country’s gross financing needs in 2020.

Operational Outlook

Equatorial Guinea's economy is dominated by the hydrocarbons sector and operating procedures favour the ruling elite's patrimonial system of control. Equatorial Guinea continues to invest in infrastructure, but many construction projects are affected by declining oil revenues. There are skill shortages among the labour force. Labour unrest is on the rise as salary arrears mount in many companies due to reduced industrial activity and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. Corruption is endemic at the highest level, but a new IMF programme aims to improve transparency and accountability through a new anti-corruption framework including asset declarations.

Terrorism

Kidnapping of crews of support vessels closer to their bases is more probable as expanding oil and gas infrastructure on Bioko Island is becoming an opportunistic target. The waters off Equatorial Guinea are within reach of Niger Delta-based pirates. In May 2020, the crew members of a Comoros-flagged and Equatorial Guinean-flagged vessels were attacked off the coast of Luba in the exclusive economic zone. The navy has been spending heavily to improve its capabilities in counteracting piracy, and the country has been playing an active part in regional counter-piracy initiatives and operations.

Crime

Despite high poverty levels, crime levels are controlled by the ruthless responses of the police rather than any inherent competence. Perceived offenders, whether guilty or not, can expect to be treated brutally and without due process. However, there has been a noticeable rise in non-violent street crime and residential burglaries affecting expatriates in the last few years, as well as regular reports of petty theft. Anecdotal evidence, in the absence of official statistics, suggests violent crime including murder is increasing as socio-economic inequalities deepen further.

War Risks

Periodic disputes with neighbouring countries, especially Cameroon, are likely to occur, particularly as Equatorial Guinea seeks ways to retain border controls and visa restrictions despite adoption by the regional economic bloc of a free movement agreement. The alleged December 2017 coup attempt, thwarted in the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea border, as well as the town of Mongomo, on the border with Gabon, has led to border closings and strain bilateral relations, although this have gradually improved. Disagreements in the aftermath of the coup attempt could provoke exchanges of small arms fire between border officials but it is unlikely to deteriorate into anything more serious.

Social Stability

Despite the challenging economic situation, social unrest and protests remain rare because of the heavy-handed approach of security forces, the threat of reprisals, incarceration, and the lack of a well-organised opposition. Shortage of cash by the government is likely to impact particularly on students, who will hold sporadic protests over the non-payment of scholarships and stipends, but security forces will not allow these to spill into commercial areas or disrupt cargo. Occasional demonstrations are probable over the issue of economic migrants, with the threat of violence most acute in towns close to the borders with Cameroon and Gabon.

Health Risk

Vaccines required to enter the country

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is generally recommended for travelers over nine months of age. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease; it should be taken ten days in advance to be fully effective.

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Natural Risks

Foreign visitors should note that the long rainy season lasts from March until November and often leads to difficult road conditions. Poor driving habits, substandard road quality, poor vehicle maintenance, and the absence of efficient emergency services render travel by car relatively hazardous. It is therefore necessary to always wear a seat belt and to keep important insurance, medical, and identification documents on hand.

Transportation

A number of local and regional airlines serving Equatorial Guinea are on the EU's blacklist, meaning they are not allowed to fly within European airspace due to substandard safety measures.

It should also be noted that outside of the country's main cities there are few, if any, hotels. Hotels in Malabo and Bata are satisfactory and rapidly being developed. Furthermore, sanitation standards at many restaurants in rural areas are inadequate.

Practical Information

Climate

Equatorial Guinea's climate is, unsurprisingly, equatorial, i.e. hot and wet (1.7 - 4 meters of annual rainfall). It rains more often in coastal regions. The rainy season lasts from May until October on Bioko Island (Malabo). A hot and dry wind (the “Tornado”) blows across the country from November until March. The ocean is warm and pleasant throughout the year.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +240
Malabo Central Police Station: 0927 79

Due to a lack of staff and resources, police usually do not act outside their districts.

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal