Equatorial Guinea ‘hours from disconnection’ in bill dispute
Equatorial Guinea appears to have narrowly averted losing one of its main subsea connections to the global telecoms infrastructure, by a matter of hours.
According to the Ecofin news agency, the authorities of the country indicated on Friday that the country was at risk of suffering an interruption of services because of a delayed payment of its bill.
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vice president Equatorial Guinea since 2012, and son of 80-year-old Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president since 1979, intervened in the dispute over the weekend.
He blamed the Central Bank of Central African States (BEAC, pictured) and the French central bank for not making the payment on behalf of telecoms infrastructure operator Gestor de Infraestructuras de Guinea Ecuatorial (GITGE).
Vice president Nguema said in a tweet that “if the Central Bank of France does not authorize transfers via the BEAC for the payment of optical fibre in the country, in two weeks Equatorial Guinea will be without internet”.
Equatorial Guinea is connected to the Africa Coast to Europe cable, which runs along the coast of west Africa and connects France to South Africa with several landing points in various countries in Africa, including Côte d’Ivoire , Cameroon and Gabon.
Nguema asked the country’s prime minister, Francisco Pascual Obama Asue, to set up a commission responsible for providing “an immediate solution to this problem”. BEAC is constrained by foreign exchange regulations that have applied since April 2019.
GITGE said later that because of the intervention it “can guarantee the service and normalize services”. It said the “blockade” had been lifted.
Equatorial Guinea has a population of 1.47 million and 386,600 internet users, a penetration rate of 26%.