France and Equatorial Guinea

Presentation

Political relations

Relations between France and Equatorial Guinea, which date back beyond the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits within the country, first developed as bilateral cooperation, before expanding under the Franc zone and Francophonie, as early as the 1980 (French has been the second official language in Equatorial Guinea since 1989).

In 2010, following the complaint lodged by Transparency International France, French courts opened a hearing into the assets acquired in France by Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, currently Vice-President and son of the Head of State. Following the judicial investigation, the French investigating judge asked in September 2016 for the President’s son to appear before the Paris Criminal Court (Tribunal Correctionnel) who handed down its judgement on 27 October 2017.

Following this case, Equatorial Guinea submitted a petition to the International Court of Justice in June 2016 which was registered under the name: “Immunities and criminal proceedings. Equatorial Guinea vs France”.

Most recent bilateral visits

  • January 2017: meeting between the French President and President Obiang and meeting between the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs alongside the Africa-France Summit in Bamako.
  • November 2015: meeting between the French Prime Minister and President Obiang alongside the opening of COP21.
  • February 2015: visit by Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Ms Annick Girardin, for the final of the African Cup of Nations.
  • September 2014: meeting between the French President and President Obiang in New York in parallel to the UN General Assembly.
  • December 2013: participation by President Obiang in the Elysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa.
  • August 2012: visit by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Agapito Mba Mokuy.
  • November 2011: visit to Cannes by President Obiang during the G20 summit.
  • May-June 2010: visit by President Obiang to Nice for the Africa-France Summit.

Economic relations

The stockpile of French foreign direct investment in Equatorial Guinea stood at €128 million in 2014. While no French businesses are involved in the oil exploration and production activities, 18 French subsidiaries are present in Equatorial Guinea, mainly in the fields of telecommunications (Orange, 40% shareholder in Getesa), distribution (Total Distribution, CFAO), hotels (Accor), public construction (Bouygues, Vinci, Razel), engineering (Egis, Veritas), banking (Société Générale), agrifood (Castel) and transport (Air France, Bolloré Africa Logistics).

In 2016, French exports to Equatorial Guinea dropped significantly (down 44%), as did imports to France from Equatorial Guinea (down 87%). The fall covered all export sectors and is linked to the serious recession that Equatorial Guinea’s economy has been in for the past three years. France’s trade deficit was nearly completely cancelled out moving from €281.5 million in 2015 to €1.8 million.

For more information, please consult https://www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/Ressources/Pays/guinee-equatoriale

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

The Cultural Cooperation and Outreach Service (SCAC) at France’s embassy in Malabo follows a civil cooperation policy which aims to:

  • bolster the partnership between France and Equatorial Guinea
  • work to ensure French/Spanish bilingualism becomes deep-rooted
  • promote democratic governance
  • consolidate France’s economic presence in an increasingly competitive context.

Bilateral cooperation between France and Equatorial Guinea is unusual in that nealy 80% of the funding is provided by Equatorial Guinea.

France has several grassroots staging posts:

  • the Equatorial Guinea Institut Français in Malabo
  • the Leopold Sedar Senghor “Maison de la Francophonie” in Balta kindly put at France’s disposal by President Obiang, which aims to promote French in the continental part of the country
  • the “La Concorde” French School in Malabo approved by the AEFE.

The SCAC also has a programme of study, internship and linguistic bursaries for teachers, lecturers and members of the Equatorial Guinea civil service. A Social Development Fund (FSD) finances social microprojects. The development of the French language, essentially used by Equatorial Guinea’s elite, is one of the key objectives of the SCAC’s work.

Other cooperation

France is cooperating with Equatorial Guinea on matters of defence in the aim of facilitating Equatorial Guinea’s participation in the military and security bodies of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). As regards defence, in addition to the training offered to Equatorial Guinea’s officers within French schools and French-supported regional schools on the African continent, a regional naval academy was opened in Bata in 2010 (requested and funded by the government of Equatorial Guinea). At the new naval academy in TICA, teaching will be provided by military officers from Equatorial Guinea with the support of French partners.

Updated: 23 November 2017

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