Equatorial Guinea is a country located on the west coast of central Africa. The form of government in Equatorial Guinea can be referred to as a dictatorship (Rupiya, 2020). Equatorial Guinea enjoyed rapid economic development following the discovery of oil in 1995 (Douglas, 2017). However, the Mongomo clan has dominated powerful positions since the country gained independence which has affected the economy (Douglas, 2017). This paper will analyze the impact of the concentration of power by the Mongomo clan in the past 10 years in Equatorial Guinea.
The Mongomo Clan
The communities in Equatorial Guinea are divided into several clans. The Fang tribe is the largest with 85% of the population (Douglas, 2017). Fang is divided into 50 clans which are used for social organization (Douglas, 2017). The Mongomo society is part of the Fang and is the most significant clan because of its proximity to power. The clan came into power because of the first president of Equatorial Guinea, Macias Nguema (Douglas, 2017). Among the Mongomo clan members, the Essangui Fang, a subtribe of Fang, is the majority (Douglas, 2017). The name Mongomo is taken from the name of the area where the current president was born.
Following the coup in 1979 that overthrew Macias Nguema, the new president sought to fill all major positions with family members or people from the Mongomo clan (Douglas, 2017). The president also appointed his son as the vice president and has made it clear that his son is the preferred successor. The discovery of oil in 1995 ensured that the country’s economy drastically grew (Douglas, 2017). The Mongomo clan has been in power since independence, which indicates the strength of the clan and the nature of the government in Equatorial Guinea (Douglas, 2017). However, corruption and nepotism have ensured that the citizens of the country have not enjoyed the profits from the sale of oil.
How the Mongomo Clan Concentrates Power
The form of government in Equatorial Guinea is a dictatorship with a unitary president who is all-powerful. The Mongomo clan has enforced various ways to ensure it stays in power. One of the ways is to hold elections that are controlled by the ruling party. The head of state enforces strict laws that are meant to prevent the opposition from accessing power (Douglas, 2017). In the presidential election that occurred in August 2016, the current leader won with a 93.7% margin (Sá and Rodrigues Sanches, 2021). As in many past elections, some of the opposition parties boycotted the elections, citing fraud and corruption.
The president uses violent means to silence critics and ensure his grip on power remains. The country has been in the news because of human rights abuses against people viewed as political opponents (Rupiya, 2020). Another way used by the head of state to concentrate power is to assign close family members to important government jobs. The main focus of the ruling clan is the mines, industry, and energy ministry where the wealth of Equatorial Guinea is based (Morozenskaya, 2019). Appointing clan members in important positions allows the president to carry out any activity without being challenged.
Impacts on the Country
As a result of the concentration of power to one clan, Equatorial Guinea has been impacted adversely. One of the aspects which shows the impact is the poverty level in the country. The latest data from 2020 estimated the poverty level at 67% (African Development Bank Group, 2022). The statistics also indicate that the unemployment rate was 9.2% in 2020 (African Development Bank Group, 2022). The information shows that the majority of the residents in the country are living below the poverty line. This is significant in a country that has numerous oil reserves. The control that the Mongomo clan has over the country has ensured that only a few people receive the proceeds from oil sales.
Another impact of the control the Mongomo clan exerts on the country is the rise in tensions as a result of poverty and favoritism. Citizens have in recent years agitated for better services in their country. However, the level of regulation in the country is significant in such a way that violence is used to quell any form of opposition (Morozenskaya, 2019). The pressure is centered on the differences witnessed in the lives of people close to power and the common citizens (Sá and Rodrigues Sanches, 2021). The variances in lifestyle can result in widespread violence, as witnessed in different sub-Saharan countries.
Another impact is the underdevelopment of essential sectors of the economy. The ruling family ensures that various sectors of the economy remain underutilized to maintain a grip on power. This intensifies poverty rates in the country and increases the chances of violent revolutions (Douglas, 2017). Equatorial Guinea has witnessed developments in sectors that provide revenues to the country. However, the revenues are not used to build infrastructure for the people. The ruling family uses the revenues for their benefit and disregards the people.
Another impact is the minimal investments from foreign entities due to a lack of independent institutions. The president maintains absolute control of the different autonomous establishments in the country (Al-Bagoury, 2013). This means that the head of state can decide to end a contract with a foreign company arbitrarily. This discourages foreign investors, who are essential in bringing investments that create jobs for the people. Equatorial Guinea may struggle to develop due to the Mongomo clan’s stranglehold on power.
In summary, Equatorial Guinea is a state that has high poverty levels. The country’s economy is based on the petroleum sector, which is controlled by the Mongomo clan and led by the current president. The head of state ensures that close family members are appointed to important positions in government. This has made the nation experience low levels of development and has placed the country’s population in poverty. Therefore, the Mongomo clan’s control of power in Equatorial Guinea continues to impact the economic outlook of the country negatively.
African Development Bank Group. (2022) Equatorial Guinea Economic Outlook. Web.
Al-Bagoury, S. (2013) ‘Oil in Equatorial Guinea: growth without development’, Wyno Academy Journal of Social Sciences, 1, pp. 1-8.
Douglas, A.Y. (2017) ‘Dynastic Rule in Equatorial Guinea’, African Journal of Political Science and International Relations, 11(12), pp. 339-359.
Morozenskaya, E.V. (2019) ‘Equatorial Guinea: economic potential and capacity constraints’, Asia and Africa Today, (1), pp. 54-57.
Rupiya, M.R. (2020) ‘Political history of Equatorial Guinea: the rise and entrenchment of Nguemism’, Advances in Historical Studies, 9(3), pp. 98-112.
Sá, A.L. and Rodrigues Sanches, E., (2021) ‘The politics of autocratic survival in Equatorial Guinea: co-optation, restrictive institutional rules, repression, and international projection’, African Affairs, 120(478), pp. 78-102.