Today, world famous footballers from clubs across the world are gathering in Equatorial Guinea for the Africa Cup of Nations – the world’s third most watched football tournament.
Thanks to oil, Equatorial Guinea’s per capita wealth is similar to that of most European countries, yet poverty remains endemic and the vast majority of people can only dream of being able to afford tickets to the games. Many in the country have little or no access to running water, affordable health care or quality education. Nearly one out of every eight children dies before reaching their fifth birthday.
ONE has joined forces with African civil society group EG Justice to call on Europe’s leaders to take swift action to help combat the corruption and misuse of funds that has led to this extreme inequality in Equatorial Guinea. The European Commission has proposed legislation that would require oil, gas, mining and forestry companies to publish all the payments they make to governments – broken down to the level of individual projects – so that they can be held accountable by groups like EG Justice. We’re asking MEPs and member states to fully support these proposals, and ensure that essential aspects like project by project reporting are not watered down in the face of heavy corporate lobbying.
Tutu Alicante, the executive director of EG Justice, said:
“The government of Equatorial Guinea hopes that the recently completed luxury hotels, golf resorts, and shiny monuments will disguise the grinding poverty that dominates the lives of most people in the oil-rich nation. They must not be allowed to get away with this deception.
“Government secrecy allows officials in Equatorial Guinea to spend money according to their whims. The government spent 580 million Euros on Sipopo, a luxury resort with a private golf course. At least 13 presidential palaces have been or are being constructed in ten cities across the country, a rate of one palace for every 54,000 people in this country. This shows a shocking disregard for the needs of the people in Equatorial Guinea.”
We’ve already managed to get some media coverage of the issue in the UK, France and Spain, which will help put the issue on the radar of European leaders. But we’ll be keeping up the pressure until we get the legally binding measures that we need.
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