Malabo — Policy makers and other major development players in Equatorial Guinea are exuding keen interest in the first major high-level development policy dialogue to be held in the country following the macroeconomic imbalances engendered by the oil glut experienced from 2014.
The high-level policy dialogue to take place in Malabo on 12 July 2018 is a joint initiative of the Subregional Office for Central Africa of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Ministry of Finance, Economy and Planning of Equatorial Guinea. Its focus will be on how to diversify the country's economy to better cushion external shocks caused by overdependence on the export of raw materials (notably crude oil) and as a basis towards sustainable growth and development.
Major discussants will include representatives of the Ministries of Finance, Economy and Planning, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Forestry and the Environment, Fisheries and Water Resources, Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Trade and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, research centres and the private sector in Equatorial Guinea and the sub-region's technical and financial partners.
The debate is expected to culminate in a consensus on the priority measures to be implemented to enable the economy harness its full potential and contribute to the development of a dynamic non-oil sector that drives lasting growth and structural transformation. Moreover, the event will devise a menu of actions and assistance to be provided by the ECA to guide the formulation, implementation as well as monitoring and evaluation of economic diversification and industrialization strategies in Equatorial Guinea.
With close to 1.2 million people, Equatorial Guinea spans slightly over 28,000 square kilometres of land and more than 300 thousand square kilometres of territorial waters with impressive oil, aquatic, forest and other natural riches that can make it an Eldorado. With an average annual growth rate of 27.8% between 1993 and 2012, the country recorded one of the strongest economic growths rates on the African continent at the time.
The growth was driven by the discovery of huge oil and gas deposits in the 1990s. However, given the structure of its GDP dominated essentially by export-oriented crude oil extraction and natural gas, Equatorial Guinea's economy is very sensitive to world market fluctuations. Accordingly, since 2013, the country is in the throes of a recession attributable to the slump in international prices of hydrocarbons.
The huge revenues generated from hydrocarbons exploitation contributed to significant improvement of basic economic and social infrastructure. In spite of the significant human development progress, results do not yet reflect the country's economic and financial potential.
The policy dialogue is expected to unearth the most effective pathways to make full use of the country's potential for sustainable development.