"The life is good here" Oleg Dobrenko, entrepreneur, Russia21.06.2013
Why I stayed in Equatorial Guinea, you may ask. I just had no choice. I’m 50, 35 of which I served for civil aviation, was at three wars and in Russia I could only expect a pension worth 50 dollars. A man of my age cannot start business from scratch in any of the post-Soviet states. Meanwhile, here I am a respected man, whom banks trust and do not require a detailed business plan and long explanations. Now I cook food to order and build a restaurant and a bakery. My dream is a boutique with 15 kinds of bread. The menu of my restaurant will offer traditional Russian cuisine: vareniki, pelmeni, golubtsi, manti. May be there will also be a billiards hall in the second floor. I am also eager to build a church and have already found sponsors. At least there will be a place for my compatriots to meet on Sundays.
The life is good here. Being familiar with the local top officials I can say that many have a grudge against the President for only one reason: because he reinvests in his country a lot, something that his neighbours do not do. Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon were the first to join the OPEC. They have been mining oil for already 40 years, longer than Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. But the authorities of these countries do not invest as much as Obiang. That is why so many expats come to Equatorial Guinea to work. By the way Europeans stay here too. A lot of Spaniards have come here of late. Meanwhile, locals are not happy with their arrival. The Guineans remind me the population of the Middle Asia after the collapse of the USSR: they are quick learners too.
Indeed, there is corruption and embezzlement, but the situation has improved over the past 5 to 6 years since the oil money have been redistributed. I saw with my own eyes roads, plumbing, housing, trade centers and bridges being built and street lights installed. Malabo II was constructed from scratch. There is even a new city under construction – a new capital of Oyala. The construction of three deep sea ports, four international airports and several water treatment facilities are underway. What state can afford such a large-scale construction? Look, Germans have been building an airport in Berlin, and have not finished it so far.
A home in Buena Esperansa region under a social program costs 10 thousand euro and a 10-year installment is available. Where else in the world can you buy a 3 room home with two bathrooms so cheap. No wonder everybody wishes this president a long term. Europeans accuse him of corruption, but he calmly replies “Who is not corrupt?” A salary of a skilled professional in Europe is 1 to 2 thousand euro in Europe versus 5 to 6 here plus special benefits. Obiang says that Equatorial Guinea now can invest in Europe but Europe does not want it. The President has recently announced a new plan. “Enough roads and bridges, let’s build plants!’ he said. To cut a long story short, he decided to develop industry. I used to tell the Ministry of Agriculture seven years ago that they can gather up to four harvests a year. Why import tomatoes from Cameroon? Only now they got it. I think, one day, they will realize the power of tourism. All walk one way.