President Museveni on Friday night received the Great Collar of Independence Award from Equatorial Guinea president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo for his “outstanding contribution and advancement of the Pan African cause on the continent”.
The award ceremony took place at president Nguema’s official residence in the capital Malabo, where President Museveni arrived on the same day on a four-day state visit.
The two heads of state are ranked on the list of long serving non-traditional leaders. President Nguema has ruled the tiny oil-producing Central African country since August 1979, after mounting a coup that toppled his uncle Francisco Macías, who is also considered one of post independent Africa’s cruelest and corrupt leaders.
Uganda is looking to tap into Equatorial Guinea’s experience of oil production in order to build its own capacity before oil production starts, which partly explains the fondness between the two principals, the language barrier notwithstanding.
Mr Nguema was in Uganda in April on a three-day visit during which the two signed bilateral agreements to cooperate in areas such as security, trade, oil and gas and diplomatic cooperation. During an earlier visit in 2012, he was also presented with an award for “selfless contribution to peace and stability not only in their own countries but also in their respective regions.”
In a speech delivered at the award ceremony posted on his Facebook page, President Museveni said his visit to Equatorial Guinea is to reaffirm the oneness of African people
“We should use this connectivity to build strength and prosperity,” Mr Museveni remarked. He added: “Our only challenge now is shortage of infrastructure to link us but the easiest way to start is through air transport and telephones. Some people say oil is a curse but in Equatorial Guinea, it is a blessing.”
Notwithstanding its vast petroleum resources, according to the International Monetary Fund, Equatorial Guinea has the highest level of per capita income in all sub-Saharan Africa, at $22,300 (about Shs80m) per year about the same as Portugal, but more than three-quarters of the population live below the poverty line and oil revenues are mostly misused.