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© 2017 Alamy The president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, once described the discovery of oil in the 1990s off the coast of the small Central African nation as “manna from heaven,” the Biblical life-saving bread that God sent Israelites as they wandered in the desert.
Ravaged by almost six centuries of colonialism followed by an eleven-year brutal dictatorship, the country was one of the world’s poorest and most poorly governed in 1979 when Obiang deposed his uncle and took power.
Within the next decade per capita gross domestic product (GDP) rose significantly, comparable to that of many industrialized nations—peaking in 2012 at billion (,304 per capita).
However, oil production has been in decline since 2012, and oil is expected to run dry by 2035 unless new reserves are found.
In Italy, the financial police, when investigating one of the largest construction companies operating in the country, found millions of dollars linked to a network of international bank accounts owned by the president and his son.
It documents how companies, fully or partially owned by the president, members of his family, or senior government officials, have been awarded large public contracts.
Obiang, the world’s longest-serving president, justifies the huge investment in infrastructure as part of a strategy to lay the groundwork for a modern economy.
Undoubtedly this investment has improved the country’s transportation infrastructure, which includes a network of more than 2,000 kilometers of roads, five airports, and eight ports, as well as several modern hospitals and a national university campus.
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After spending several million dollars on government buildings in Malabo, the capital,and Bata, the nation’s economic center, Equatorial Guinea is pouring billions of dollars into building a new administrative capital, Oyala, in the middle of the jungle.