Ambassador McDonald was invited to Equatorial Guinea to serve for the Administrative Council for the Fund for Social Development, which was established by the Government of Equatorial Guinea and that of the United States.
Slightly smaller than the State of Maryland, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea is located in Western Central Africa. Since the discovery of huge oil reserves in 1996, the economy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea has grown, contributing to a tremendous increase in government revenue. As of 2005, oil production was estimated to be 240,000 barrels per day (bbl/d), ranking the Republic of Equatorial Guinea as the third largest oil-producing country in Sub-Saharan Africa.
During the last few years, the government of Equatorial Guinea has expressed interest in promoting private-sector development and infrastructure, and in resolving the basic human needs of its people through education, health, environment, women’s issues and sanitation. On July 4, 2005, the Government of Equatorial Guinea created a Fund for Social Development to support policies aimed at improving the well being of its citizens, and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which fight against poverty.
On April 11, 2006, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Government of Equatorial Guinea and that of the United States to mutually cooperate in managing the “Social Needs Fund” adopted by the government of Equatorial Guinea.
Accordingly, both governments agreed upon the management and realization of the Social Fund through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which will provide technical assistance and foster transparency and accountability in designing and implementing social needs projects. Development Alternatives International, Inc. (DAI) won the competitive bid put out by USAID and agreed to help manage the projects.
In late spring 2007, Ambassador John McDonald and Brian Atwood of the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota and former USAID Administrator, were invited to Bata, Equatorial Guinea, by DAI and the Prime Minister of Equatorial Guinea to be the two development experts serving on the Administrative Council for the Fund for Social Development.
A very informative meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister, D. Ricardo Mangue Obama Nfubea, took place on June 22 in Bata.