- The state visit of Equatoguinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema to Zimbabwe did not end up with a widely expected oil deal between the two allied countries that could alleviate the current energy crisis in Zimbabwe. President Obiang however invited Zimbabwean businessmen to visit Equatorial Guinea and to explore possible business opportunities there.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Friday confirmed to the local press that he had not reached any concrete agreement with his Equatoguinean counterpart regarding possible cheap oil imports. "There are no negotiations over oil, but our ministries are working on the issue," President Mugabe confirmed, adding that the two countries had strengthened "their economic ties."
President Obiang, who was on a three-day official visit to Zimbabwe late last week, held a series of meetings with his Zimbabwean counterpart in Harare. He was accompanied by his Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Pastor Michá Ondo Bile; Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy, Anastasio Ela Ntugu; and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, his eldest son Teodoro Nguema Obiang.
On Thursday morning, the Equatoguinean President gave statements to the press in Harare, referring to his negotiations with representatives of Zimbabwe's industrial sector. After the meeting, Mr Obiang extended an invitation to "the business community of Zimbabwe to visit Equatorial Guinea and discuss with their counterparts how they could find areas to make joint businesses."
In the opinion of the Equatoguinean President, "it seems like there exist some barriers that should be eliminated to increase the potential of the economies of our countries."
Zimbabwe's Minister of International Trade, Obert Mpofu, for his part at the press conference said he trusted that Zimbabwean businessmen would go and see for themselves what kind of business opportunities could be found in Equatorial Guinea. Minister Mpofu also announced that the chambers of commerce in both Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea would look into a draft memorandum of understanding between the two countries to examine different areas of cooperation.
Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe have few historic ties but the dictators of the two countries found together during a coup attempt against President Obiang, where a large group of alleged mercenaries heading towards Equatorial Guinea were stopped at Harare airport. Zimbabwe authorities proved helpful in the court case against the alleged coup plotters, which also saw regime critics detained.
Before President Obiang's visit to Zimbabwe, observers expected the Equatoguinean to offer his financially strained Zimbabwean counterpart a helping hand. Equatorial Guinea is currently booming due to newly found oil deposits, with President Obiang and his extended family personally managing most of the oil revenues.
Zimbabwe on the other hand is experiencing an energy crisis with petrol rationing as the bankrupt government cannot pay for oil imports. Also attempts to strike an oil deal with Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi, another personal friend of President Mugabe, failed last year. The Libyans expected that Zimbabwe would not even be able to pay for oil deliveries at a very friendly price.
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