“The resources are never enough”


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I got the pleasure of interviewing Marcos Rodriguez Jimenez, a Spanish business man who lives in Equatorial Guinea.

First of all, I may say that it has been very hard to do the interview with him because he is 6000 kilometers far away from Spain. He lives in a region where whether the internet connection is too slow or there is not, so the only way to talk to people from there is via phone or via mail. So, you may be wondering why anybody would want to live there, the answer is very easy: business.

Marcos, who is a technical industrial engineer, was offered to go to Equatorial Guinea as the General Director of the Spanish company he was working at in that moment. For accepting the position he had to pass an exam in Madrid and two psychological tests in order to see if he would be able to work, as he says, “in the middle of nothing, as this country is”. Once the results were available, he realized that he had been the one who got the highest scoring (from four hundred workers) what made him accept the position, even which meant living at 6000km abroad from his family. He arrived to Equatorial Guinea on April of 2008 in order to do works and electrification projects of low and high voltage.

At the end of last year, the company in which Marcos had been working at for years, filed for bankruptcy, what make him start thinking about creating his own company. The idea became a truth on February of this year, 2013, when he opened “Alemar.Ingenierias”.  The opening of the company wasn´t easy. For creating a company, which is mostly financed by foreign capital, in Equatorial Guinea you need to associate with someone from there who must have, at least, the 35% of the company shares. Once you have your shareholder, you must ask to the Equatorial Guinean Government for permission. All the process is very slow because the public institutions of the country are not computerized yet so everything is manually made what means that all the paperwork needs much more time than the time it would need in a country as Spain.

When I asked him about the Government, he said that “talking about the Equatorial Guinean Government is very complicated”. It is a dictatorship led by Teodoro Obiang after a coup made at the end of the seventies. This type of regime is not considered as one in more than eighty countries (Spain included) but Marcos says that the president is a “respectable person and worthy of admiration”. This is because he has converted Equatorial Guinea from being a poor Third World country (as 10 years ago) into the third producer of oil of all Africa. “He has created a new country in ten years by building schools, hospitals and airports, the only reason why they need foreign workers is because the country does not have professionals in any field” Marco says.

“Alemar.Ingenierias” has played a very important role in all these new infrastructure projects and in other works which have made the company be very well recognized by all sectors and with a lot of prestige. The way they work is not easy. The company has to import all materials from countries as Spain, who is the main supplier of Equatorial Guinea, because they don´t have the resources to produce what they need. This make the process be very costly and slower than it should be.  The company has to import everything: from the material and equipment to the people (workers) because, as I said before, the Equatorial Guineans are not qualified people.

But the problem with the resources is not just an issue that affects Marco´s sector, it is a country issue. He lives in a country in which poverty comes from not having drinking water to not having medicines. Sometimes Marcos tells that they had to bring their own doctors and medicines because “the resources are never enough”.

It is a problem about resources, a problem about not having enough to teach people how to be better workers, how to use what they have or how to know what they really need. But it also is a necessity, the necessity of knowing how to improve, how to face big countries. The government is trying to improve the country, but there is not improvement if people don´t have the chance of improving. Although Marcos and Equatorial Guineans speak the same language, they don´t share the same culture and this is the “big difference” that Marcos has realized, the difference of having the necessity and chance of improving, and just having the need. 

 

Alba Luque Granda

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