Malabo — The Head of State, President Paul Biya and wife, Chantal arrived in the capital of Equatorial Guinea, Malabo yesterday 12 December 2012 to participate in the 7th Summit of Heads of State and governments of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) that holds today and tomorrow. On arrival in Malabo, the Presidential Couple was received by the Vice President in charge of Presidential Affairs of Equatorial Guinea, Inacio Milam Ntang.
Apart from officials from Equatorial Guinea who welcomed the Presidential Couple, there was also the official entourage of the Head of State who had come earlier to wait for the President. They included the Minister of External Relations, Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo who attended the ACP joint ministerial conference on Tuesday 11 December, the Minister, Director of the Civil Cabinet, Martin Belinga Eboutou, the Assistant Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic, Magloire Séraphin Fouda, Minister in charge of Special Duties at the Presidency, Paul Atanga Nji, Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi, the Ambassador of Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea Lazare Mpouel Bala and Wife as well as Cameroon's Ambassador to Brussels, Daniel Evina Abe'e.
After a brief protocol ceremony at the airport, the Presidential convoy headed for the modern city of Sipopo, some 23 km outside Malabo where all the Heads of State will be lodged and which is also venue for the Summit. There was also an imposing presence of Cameroonians living in Equatorial Guinea at the Malabo Airport to welcome President Biya and wife. They sang, danced, cheered and carried placards with messages of welcome and a happy stay to the President and his entourage in Equatorial Guinea.
The Malabo Summit of ACP Heads of State and government which opens today is promising to be one of the most heavily attended since the 1975 Georgetown Agreement that gave birth to the organisation. With over 30 heads of State being announced this morning in Malabo, such an interest is due to the stakes of the event and the personal efforts of President Obiang to rally his peers behind a common goal at such a critical moment when the major partner of the organisation which is the European Union is facing financial difficulties. There is also pressure on the ACP member countries to accept new trade negotiations with the European Union.
Besides the official opening ceremony this morning during which various speakers are expected to insist on the need for ACP countries to render the organisation more dynamic and capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st Century, discussions will also centre on the future of Banana, Sugar, and cotton from the ACP to the European markets. Most delegates who participated in the Joint Council of ACP ministers confirmed that there is dire need for a new impetus to be given to the three-decade North-South Accord of the ACP which has been guided by the Cotonou Agreement of 2000-2020 while deepening the South-South cooperation that governs the ACP Group.
The future concerns partly justify the high attention on energy-related problems which have been identified by most ACP member countries and their strategic partners, Europe as crucial for development within the ACP.