The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations might have come to an end at the weekend, but rights groups are determined to keep co-hosts Equatorial Guinea in the media spotlight and draw attention to the government’s inherent corruption and abuse of national funds. The country was the subject of international media controversy early on in the tournament when the President’s son, Teodoro Ngueme Obiang Mangue, paid the Equatoguinean squad $1m for beating Libya in the opening match.

As seventy per cent of Equatorial Guinea’s population live below the poverty line and have little or no access to running water, quality education or affordable healthcare, the payment has raised serious concerns and prompted questions over where the money has come from.

…Equatorial Guinea among its top twelve most corrupt states…

This is just one aspect of a much wider problem concerning the lack of fiscal transparency in Equatorial Guinea, however, and other developing countries that are rich in natural resources. Equatorial Guinea is an oil-rich country whose per capita wealth is similar to that of most European countries thanks to vast oil revenues. But this money clearly does not reach the Equatoguinean people. Instead, it ends up in the pockets of the corrupt government elite and is spent on luxury palaces and golf resorts.

Last year, Teodoro Ngueme Obiang Mangue was accused of spending more than $100m of state funds to buy, among other things, a Gulfstream jet, a Malibu mansion and a crystal-covered glove that once belonged to Michael Jackson. This misuse of funds is facilitated by the secrecy surrounding the revenues received by the government from the sale of its natural resources. The President, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has resisted calls for more transparency and insists that oil revenues are a state secret. The corruption watchdog Transparency International has listed Equatorial Guinea among its top twelve most corrupt states and in April 2010 the country was delisted from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) after failing to comply with the organisation’s standards of government transparency.

…the secrecy that facilitates government corruption…

Now the global anti-poverty campaign group ONE and African civil society group EG Justice are launching a campaign to call on European leaders to pass legislation that would force oil, gas, mining and forestry companies to publish all the payments they make to governments, broken down to the level of individual projects. Adrian Lovett, Europe director for ONE, said: “such laws will shine a light on the secrecy that facilitates government corruption and the mismanagement of funds that should be spent to reduce poverty and improve the lives of ordinary people.” If the details of national budgets are made available to the public, citizens will have the necessary information to hold their governments to account and assess whether their country’s money is being spent wisely for the benefit of the people.

…get more actively involved in the campaign…

ONE is asking members of the public to sign their petition putting pressure on European leaders to stand up to corporate lobbyists who are trying to get the proposals watered down. The petition is available to sign here. Students in London can also get more actively involved in the campaign by joining the student activist groups that have recently been set up at Goldsmiths, LSE, King’s, SOAS, UCL, St Georges and Westminster.


Sean Penn urges negotiations

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I am currently studying International Relations at the University of Leeds. As well as being constantly captivated by UK and world politics, I have a particular interest in international development, mental health and global gender issues

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