Equatorial Guinea's GDP per capita (PPP) in 2009 was of $37,500.That is right between Canada and Belgium, according to the CIA. This is thanks to booming oil exports since the 1990s. Yet half the population live with less than a dollar a day, life expectancy is of only 60 years and education expenditure is at 0.6% of GDP, the lowest level in the world. How is this possible when oil exports amount to about a barrel per person per day, or $80?
As Gylfason and Wijkman write on Vox, only one man gets all the cash: "President Obiang has governed Equatorial Guinea since 1979, having been re-elected a few times with 98% of the vote... State-operated radio declared President Obiang to be a god who is in permanent contact with the Almighty and can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to hell".
In 2004, a crazy British aristocrat built an army of mercenaries and tried to take control of the country and its oil. The coup d'état was an utter failure (a movie based on "The Wonga Coup" is due to come out next year). But imagine if a benevolent dictator overthrowed the government and distributed the wealth equally. Half a million people would suddenly earn $30,000 a year. That would be quite a natural experiment!