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Cablegate: Malabo Delivers Money to Back Social Development Fund

R 200029Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY MALABO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0428
AMEMBASSY USAID
USAID WASHDC
INFO AMEMBASSY MALABO

UNCLAS MALABO 000135


AIDAC

C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION

USAID/WA FOR HENDERSON PATRICK
USAID/AFR/WA FOR NATALIE FREEMAN AND TORINA WAY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EK XA
SUBJECT: MALABO DELIVERS MONEY TO BACK SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT FUND
PROJECTS

1. (U) Summary: The Prime Minister of Equatorial Guinea
delivered eight checks to three Ministers to begin eight
priority projects to be financed under the Social Development
Fund Program of the Government of Equatorial Guinea. Attending
the November 17, 2008 event were the Prime Minister, the
Executive Director of the Fund, the seven ministers or their
representatives involved in the Fund, as well as members of the
press, the diplomatic community, and representatives from the
major US oil companies working in the country. The projects
involve such health programs as the Demographic and Health
Survey, a fistula obstetrics program and a primary health care
initiative. Education activities involve a preschool education
program, school renovations and new construction of primary and
secondary schools, the renovation of the national training
center, and a national school data system. These are the first
of approximately 50 projects to be carried out over the next
three years. Approximately $20 million is budgeted.

2. (U) Priority Fund Projects: The first projects of the Fund
involved a broad range of activities. The school data system and
the Demographic and Health Survey are important because they
will establish for the first time a reliable set of baseline
information and indicators about the actual health and education
conditions in Equatorial Guinea. A recent IMF report cited the
serious deficiencies regarding available data of all kinds in
the country and this information will provide a broad range of
health and education information that have to date not existed.
There may be an added benefit in that the health survey will
require methodical estimate of national population (the first
reliable estimate since 1994) from which to draw a sample of the
population to be surveyed. The primary health care, fistula
obstetrics and preschool education programs are major national
efforts to significantly improve the delivery of important
national services targeting children and women of child bearing
age. Over 100 schools are planned to be renovated or built anew.
A national teacher training center will be renovated. The final
program is a women's employment generation initiative
spearheaded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Promotion of
Women.

3. (U) Government Capacity Building: The Government of
Equatorial Guinea is now entering the most difficult,
challenging phase of the Social Development Fund Program, actual
implementation of social projects. It will test the Government's
ability to carry out projects with its own staff supported by
various international NGOs and private consultants. The IMF in
its recent report on Equatorial Guinea flagged the Fund and
strongly encouraged its implementation as a key recommendation
in the Executive Summary. In the past, most social project
initiatives have been carried out by bilateral donors or UNDP
and the other family of UN organizations. In addition, three
major government service initiatives have been the malaria
eradication project and solid waste management in Malabo started
by Marathon Oil several years ago and the Hess Oil primary
education project begun around 2006. In those instances the
activities emphasized bringing in outside companies to do
everything regarding project implementation. In the case of the
Fund Program, the emphasis is on capacity building of the
Ministry staff responsible for government services.

4. (U) Social Infrastructure Investment: In the meantime the
Government of Equatorial Guinea continues to support basic
infrastructure investments in developing its national road
system, telecommunications, the power grid, and urban water and
sewer systems for Malabo and Bata, and the like. These systems
have been on going over the last several years and will
continue. They are constructed by international contractors in
association with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Urbanism.
The Fund investment though small by comparison will likely grow.
As the Fund begins to produce tangible results, the Government
will grow more confident with the work being carried out by
USAID and the investment figure for the Fund will likely grow
significantly. Moreover, developing capacity of national
government employees is the principle way social indicators will
be improved and sustained.

5. (U) Next Steps: USAID/WA Advisor and Contractor in
Equatorial Guinea will continue to assist the Government in
implementing the Memorandum of Understanding, signed April 11,
2006, and will keep Washington informed about any significant
changes or issues that arise.

HARPOLE

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