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Global Journalist: Equatorial Guinea's Oil Curse


At first glance, the small West African nation of Equatorial Guinea is doing well. Sandwiched between Cameroon and Gabon on the Gulf of Guinea, the oil-rich nation of 820,000 has a per capita GDP equivalent to that of the Czech Republic or Portugal. But the picture is more complicated than that.

Much of its population lives in conditions similar to that in the world’s poorest countries.

On this edition of Global Journalist a look inside Equatorial Guinea, where oil has enriched its leaders but not its people.

Infant mortality rates are worse than in Ethiopia or war-ravaged South Sudan. Many people lack access to clean drinking water and about half the population lives in poverty. A large chunk of Equatorial Guinea’s oil revenues are thought to have been lost to corruption.

All this has taken place under the watch of President Teodoro Obiang, who’s been charge since 1979, when he ousted his own uncle in a military coup.

Meanwhile his son, the country's vice president, has made headlines around the world for lavish spending on a fleet of Ferraris and Bentleys, mansions in Malibu and Paris, for acquiring perhaps the world’s greatest collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia.  

Our guests this week:

  • Tutu Alicante, executive eirector of Equatorial Guinea Justice, a human rights group.
  • Tawanda Kanhema, the producer of the 2014 documentary “The Prince of Malabo: Power, Money and Impunity,” which examines corruption in the country.  He’s also a producer for Al-Jazeera’s digital news platform AJ+.
  • Oscar Scafidi, a travel writer and author of the upcoming Bradt Guide to Equatorial Guinea.

Jason left Global Journalist in 2019
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