Africa Cup of Nations host Equatorial Guinea is the world's most unequal country

Inequality in Equatorial Guinea is so extreme it makes South Africa look like Sweden.

The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) host’s GDP per capita (on the basis of purchasing power parity) of approximately US$30 000, the highest in Africa by far, eclipses ours (US$11 500) and puts it on par with countries such as Italy or New Zealand.

The World Bank classifies Equatorial Guinea, along with others such as the United States and Australia, as a “high income economy”.

Estadio de Bata (capacity 35 700) is the largest stadium in Equatorial Guinea. It was built in 2007 and extensively renovated in 2011 for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Oil production leads to eye-watering GDP growth

Equatorial Guinea (population 700 000), a country the size of Wales, had one of world's lowest levels of GDP per capita when large-scale oil production began in 1996. Today it’s Africa’s third largest oil producer after Nigeria (population 180-million) and Angola (population 20-million).

According to the World Bank, real GDP growth was 71.2 percent in 1997, the first year of extensive oil production, and averaged 23.6 percent between 1996 and 2008.

Breakneck growth has, however, failed to uplift the vast majority of Equatorial Guineans who continue to eke out a living in a nation with weak institutions and governance, and a terrible human rights record.

A slum on Bioko Island in Equatorial Guinea.

Breath-taking wealth and life stealing poverty

South Africa, often mentioned as "the most unequal society on Earth", has a GDP per capita (PPP) of roughly US$11 000 while about 26 percent of our population lives on less than US$2 per day. Equatorial Guinea has a GDP per capita (PPP) of roughly $30 000 while 77 percent of its population lives on less than US$2 per day.

While Equatorial Guinea’s vast oil wealth puts it, on a per capita basis, on par with a country such as the United Arab Emirates it ranks a lowly 144th on the UN's 2014 Human Development Index. It's a rich country, but fewer than half the population has access to clean drinking water and 20 percent of children die before the age of five.

The authoritarian government consistently ranks as having among the worst human rights records in the world.

President Teodoro Obiang’s net worth of US$600-million, according to Forbes, makes him the wealthiest head of state in the world.


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