Equatorial Guinea: Obiang’s future capital..Oyala
The people of Equatorial Guinea ought to be among the world’s wealthiest – but somehow the country’s income from oil and timber doesn’t reach them. Eight years after a failed coup, putting cash in people’s pockets is not the president’s priority.
Deep in the rainforest, a giant dome of steel and glass is the centrepiece of one of the most grandiose and expensive construction projects in all of Africa. The library of the new International University of Central Africa has the look of a spaceship docked in a jungle clearing.
Around the dome, a sprawling campus is taking shape.
Earth movers, cranes and international construction crews from as far afield as Brazil, Poland and North Korea are turning the dreams of President Teodoro Obiang – Equatorial Guinea’s self-styled Guarantor of Peace and Propeller of Development – into logic-defying reality.
The university is but one small part of the president’s ambition to build Africa’s city of the future. Oyala will be the country’s new capital, a multi-billion-dollar plaything for Africa’s longest-serving dictator.
Down a newly-laid six-lane highway, dubbed the Avenue of Justice, Oyala’s first luxury hotel is taking shape. It boasts 450 rooms, a spa, theatre and convention centre.
But there are frustrations. The president himself is a frequent visitor. A university building recently had to be moved because he didn’t like the view. Not surprisingly, the project is running late.
Every nail, brick and tile is imported. Equatorial Guinea is rich in oil, gas and timber but it manufactures nothing. Even the food consumed by the construction crews is trucked into the jungle from Cameroon.
Within a decade, Oyala will house the president, the government and – according to the master plan – up to 200,000 people. Where the inhabitants will come from is anyone’s guess. The population of the entire country could fit into the city of Leeds, and the vast majority live far away, close to the coast.
“Every nail, brick and tile is imported. Equatorial Guinea is rich in oil, gas and timber but it manufactures nothing.”
follow the money..