Equatorial Guinea reaches world’s fastest economic growth

Dec 08, 2003 01:00 AM

Equatorial Guinea, long poor and neglected, achieved the world's fastest economic growth during the past decade -- 19 % a year -- as companies tapped huge oil and gas reserves. This offers the opportunity for the small west African country to reduce grinding poverty, get all children through primary school, curb HIV/AIDS and malaria, and make progress towards other Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015.
Average income per person will reach nearly $ 4,500 in 2003, but many have yet to benefit from the boom, with 60 % living in poverty. Only half the children attend primary school, and 7 % of people ages 15 to 49 are living with HIV/AIDS.

A workshop in the capital Malabo recently made a start in raising awareness about the goals. The Ministry of Information, the UN country team and the UNDP Communications Office in New York organized the event, with participants from government and private media, international correspondents and UN agencies.
Hilaro Sisa Torres, representing the Ministry of Tourism, told participants that development is a priority for the Government, particularly eliminating extreme poverty and discrimination against women, the campaign against HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and reducing maternal and child mortality.
"Our children are our future, and all our development efforts will be useless in the long term unless they include them," he said.

Achieving the MDGs depends above all on having a vision of the future that all citizens share, and that can only come about through dialogue and consensus among all those involved in development, said Bacar Abdouroihamane, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.
"The role of communicators is very important because they can reach every citizen with that vision of the future and encourage everyone to think about what they can do to make it come about," he said.

UN agencies support progress towards the goals, with UNICEF assisting in immunization to help reduce child mortality, for example. UNDP is helping to strengthen local governments to improve community living standards.
Pulqueria Nchama Ndong, commentator for Radio Asonga, said: "Now I can talk about the MDGs with the woman selling tomatoes in the market. With her earnings she puts food on the table, takes care of her children and puts them through school. Her efforts are part of the struggle against poverty, child mortality and illiteracy to reach the goals."
Antonio Nsue Ada, a journalist with the National Radio and Television, said: "We are counting a great deal on collaboration with the United Nations to get the facts that can help us raise awareness among decision makers."

Further steps to promote the MDGs are under way. The UN country team and the Government are preparing a national report on the MDGs, due for completion next year.
UNDP, with help from UN partners, is a producing a documentary film on how the country is doing on the eight goals. Follow-up from the workshop will include preparation of a national MDG communications strategy.

Source: United Nations Development Programme
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