Ethiopia: Equatorial Guinea’s corporate technocrat who wants to fix the AU (A News Analysis by Kennedy Abwao, PANA Correspondent)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Agapito Mba Mokuy, Equatorial Guinea’s foreign minister, seeking support to capture Africa’s most influential diplomatic post, has evaded fame despite the growing diplomatic stature that has come with his country’s active involvement in continental affairs.

In less than five years since Mba Mokuy became foreign minister, Equatorial Guinea has gone an extra-mile to redefine its diplomacy and foreign policy with a focus on social and economic transformation.

Malabo’s 2012 sponsorship of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the life sciences, was received with a mixture of excitement and resentment. At least three winners involved in research to improve quality of life around the world have received the Prize. They include a Senegalese Ebola researcher Dr Amadou Sall.

Malabo’s donation of US$300,000 to support the UNESCO Prize is instructive because it symbolises Mba Mokuy’s influence at home and abroad. The candidate for the post of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), served as an international civil servant with UNESCO for eight years.

The election of the new African Union (AU) Chairperson will be held as part of the 28th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, from the 22-31 January 2017.

At 51 years, Equatorial Guinea’s Foreign Minister since 2012 is considered an all-round candidate with a combined mix of international expertise, a brief track-record in the field of politics and an enduring experience in the corporate world as a financial and development consultant.  

Mba Mokuy’s foreign policy influence has been visible through Malabo’s participation at the AU, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

FAO is a beneficiary of Malabo’s funding to fight hunger in Africa while WHO and UNESCO received funding to expand research on endemic tropical diseases such as Ebola, malaria and tuberculosis.

The Equatorial Guinean candidate professes a mix of technical expertise in the field of agriculture and is also an accomplished foreign relations expert.

The author of a publication, titled “Economic analysis of the potential of US Rice industry in sub-Saharan Africa,” Mba Mokuy remains passionate about food security.

He holds a degree from the department of agricultural economics and agribusiness at the Louisiana State University.

He also obtained qualifications from the Agricultural and Mechanical College Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1990, studying among others, strategies to improve cocoa production in Equatorial Guinea.

The Equatorial Guinean diplomat held executive responsibilities both locally and internationally. He worked as a financial administration expert with UNESCO. At home, he worked as the Chief Financial officer at Equatorial Guinea Telecommunications (GETESA) and at the budget department of UNESCO abroad.

Upon his return from international service, Mba Mokuy held high profile responsibilities. He become the Minister of the Presidency in charge of International Affairs at a time when President Teodoro Obiang Nguema assumed the Chairmanship of the AU and later hosted the AU Summit.

After starting off as a low-level public servant, a protocol officer at the Presidency, Mba Mokuy has risen in rank and file to rub shoulders with the world’s who is who in the diplomatic circles.

Among his recent guests were the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other dignitaries.

Mba Mokuy plays tough when implementing rules and hates staff reporting late for work. He prefers a consultative approach in his leadership style, which he does through town hall meetings with staff at his ministry.

While holding the prime post of foreign minister since 2012 has tested his ability to work with teams of staff to host a series of international summits, making him easily the busiest foreign minister around the continent, Mba Mokuy performs his tasks by outlining his management objectives.

In his rule-book—make Equatorial Guinea interests first and foremost—the diplomat’s approach to management is to motivate staff to perform without using financial packages as a motivational factor.

Under his leadership, Equatorial Guinea played host to the 2014 AU Summit and the recent Summit of the Arab-Africa Summit, where he acted the focal point between the AU, the Arab League and the Equatorial Guinean government.  Malabo played host to the 2013 Third Africa-South America Summit.

The ministerial meeting of the AU and their South America counterparts was held in February 2013, to discuss strategies and mechanism to strengthen their cooperation. Those with knowledge of Mba Mokuy’s record say he speaks frankly and forthrightly even if it is least popular.

During a debate held for the candidates for the post of Chairperson,  Mba Mokuy called for an overhaul of the AU to make its use of financial and human resource efficient.

“We must remove structures that consume too much money,” Mba Mokuy said, referring to his plans to delink organisations that consume the bulk of funds raised by the AU to make the continental body lean.

When asked about peace and security, the Guinean diplomat preferred to pass on the responsibility of handling peacekeeping operations to the UN because the indications so far are that the AU leaders are willing and ready to act but the continent remains incapable of handling such a tedious responsibility because it lacks the financial means.
-0- PANA AO/MA 26Jan2017

26 january 2017 05:58:35

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