Last year, Australians reported more than A$634 million lost to fraud, a significant jump from $489.7 million the year before.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released its latest annual Targeting Scams report.
But despite increased awareness, scam alerts and targeted education campaigns, more Australians are being targeted than ever before.
With all the technological tools we have, why does fraud continue to be so pervasive? And how can the damage be reduced?
Latest key findings
According to the ACCC’s report, “business email compromise” fraud rose to dominance in 2019.
At $132 million, it became the highest category of financial loss reported – the first time this has happened. This usually involves using phishing and hacking to infiltrate company systems and email accounts.
Offenders can intercept payment invoices, or create their own, and funnel victims’ funds into their own accounts. Businesses and individuals make their payments as usual, but unknowingly pay the offender.
Investment and romance schemes also continue to defraud victims. Reports of investment fraud totalled $126 million, up from $80 million in 2018. And romance fraud losses totalled $83 million, up from $60.5 million in 2018.
Overall, men reported higher financial losses ($77.5 million) than women ($63.6 million).
Years of statistics
Reflecting on a decade of the ACCC’s Targeting Scams reports, we can see how fraud has changed with the times.
Since the first report in 2009 (which recorded $69.9 million in losses) Australians have collectively reported more than $2.5 billion in losses.
The number of reports has increased significantly. While this likely reflects a higher percentage of the population being targeted, it also represents more authorities receiving complaints and contributing statistics.
For instance, 2019 marked the first year the big four Australian banks (Westpac, NAB, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ) contributed their data.
The ‘prince of Nigeria’ needs your help
These days, victims are most often contacted by telephone, although email, text message and social media communications are also common.
Payment methods have advanced, too, with bitcoin and cryptocurrencies becoming popular ways for offenders to receive money.
Why is fraud still so successful?
While technology has long helped scammers, it has also helped improve cyber security options such as antivirus software, and email filters to block spam. So why do we still have fraud?
Essentially, fraud takes a human approach. Criminals seek to capitalise on victims’ weaknesses in a calculated manner. For example, this year Australians looking to buy pets during lockdown lost almost $300,000 to puppy scams.
Offenders have also shifted their focus to counteract fraud prevention messages to the public from police and other agencies. One prime example is the Little Black Book of Scams released by the ACCC in 2008.
To counter prevention messaging, offenders now recruit Australians to launder their funds. Known as “money mules”, they are often victims themselves, asked to receive and transfer money on behalf of offenders.
From a victim’s perspective, there are fewer red flags when asked to send money to a Big Four bank account in Melbourne, compared to sending money to Lagos.
Similarly, since there has been a strong push against sending money to people you don’t know, offenders have embraced the use of romance fraud (which targeted more women than men in 2019).
Offenders develop relationships and build trust to eventually cheat victims. And as last year’s report notes, they are now initiating relationships through channels other than dating apps, such as Instagram and even the online game Words with Friends.
With a focus on building relationships with victims, fraud requests are no longer as outrageous as they once were (although this Nigerian astronaut scam was an exception).
Manipulation and monopolising on emotions
As we gain a better understanding of how offenders operate, we’re starting to learn how effectively victims can be persuaded.
Fraud relies on the use of social engineering techniques such as authority and urgency to gain compliance. Offenders often take on the identity of someone with power and status to persuade victims to send money. They also stress the urgency of the request, to stop victims from thinking too much.
Psychological abuse techniques are also used to isolate and monopolise on victims. In this way, offenders try to remove victims from their support networks and place an air of secrecy around their interactions. And this limits a victims ability to seek support when needed.
There has been a greater recognition of the problem across government and industry. Despite this, there’s still often a sense of shame and embarrassment at being deceived, and victims have difficulty reporting.
Defences for the future
The latest Targeting Scams report shows us offenders are still looking to gain a financial advantage, and will do whatever it takes. While you can’t guarantee safety, there are some simple steps that can help reduce the likelihood of fraud:
recognise your own vulnerability to fraud. Everyone is a potential target.
talk about fraud-related experiences with family and friends in a non-judgemental way. Offenders want victims to stay silent.
in an uncertain situation, don’t feel pressured to xfrespond, as offenders rely on people making quick decisions. Hang up the phone, delete the email, or simply step back.
Now, more than ever, we must recognise the prevalence of fraud and the ways it impacts individuals and organisations across society. If we can learn from the past decade, maybe we can improve our defences for the next decade.
Worrying news has recently come to light: hundreds of elephants have been found dead in Botswana, and as yet, there is no clear cause of death. But as an expert in elephants and their conservation, I believe we can at least rule out a few possible answers.
Here’s what we do know: the first deaths were reported in March, but significant numbers were only recorded from May onwards. To date, it’s thought that the death toll stands at nearly 400 elephants of both sexes and all ages. Most of the deaths have occurred near the village of Seronga on the northern fringes of the Okavango Delta, a vast swampy inland region that hosts huge wildlife populations. Many of the carcasses have been found near to water.
Of those discovered so far, some lay on their knees and faces (rather than on their side), suggesting sudden death, although there are also reports of elephants looking disoriented and even walking in circles. The tusks of the dead elephants are still in place and, as yet, no other species have died under similar circumstances.
Botswana’s elephant politics
Botswana has long been a stronghold for Africa’s remaining 400,000 elephants, boasting a third of the continent’s population. While elephant numbers have widely declined in recent decades, largely due to poaching, Botswana’s population has grown.
However, this growth has been outpaced by the ever-increasing human population. With more elephants and more people, competition for space has escalated and increasingly, elephants and people find themselves at odds. Some communities see elephants as pests, as they feed on and trample crops, cause damage to infrastructure and threaten the lives of people and livestock. In return, people retaliate by killing and injuring offending elephants.
With large rural communities struggling to coexist with elephants, the issue has become highly politicised. In 2019, in a controversial move, president Mokgweetsi Masisi lifted a ban on the hunting of elephants in Botswana, reasoning that hunting could both reduce their numbers and generate income for struggling rural communities. This, against a backdrop of rising poaching, suggests that times are changing for Botswana’s elephants.
This has sparked speculation about the recent deaths. However, given what we know, we can address some of the rumours.
Firstly, it seems unlikely that poachers are to blame, since the tusks of the dead elephants have not been removed. It’s estimated that illegal black-market ivory trade is responsible for the deaths of 20,000 elephants annually.
The elephants could have been killed by frustrated local people, typically by shooting or spearing. In this case however, the sheer number of dead elephants and the lack of reports of gunshot or spearing wounds, does not support this hypothesis.
Poisoning could be used instead, either by poachers or in retaliation by locals. A few years ago hundreds of elephants in Zimbabwe died after drinking from watering holes laced with cyanide, and the proximity of many of the recent deaths to water has given the idea some foundation.
However, in the event of poisoning, we would expect to see other species dying as well, either because they drank from the same poisoned water source or because they fed on the poisoned carcass of the elephant, and this has not been reported.
A natural cause of death?
If the evidence currently available doesn’t support foul play, that leads us to consider natural causes.
Drought can cause significant deaths. In 2009, a drought killed around 400 elephants in Amboseli, Kenya, a quarter of the local population. But drought tends to kill the very young and old, while the deaths recently reported in Botswana show elephants of all ages are affected. Moreover, rainfall in recent months has been near normal, ruling out the influence of drought.
Perhaps because wildlife disease has gained much attention in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the remaining possibility that has been widely suggested is disease. While COVID-19 itself is unlikely, elephants, like humans, are affected by a range of diseases.
For instance, over 100 were suspected to have died from an anthrax outbreak in Botswana in 2019. Those elephants that seemed disoriented and to be walking in circles might suggest a disease causing a neurological condition.
Still, the information currently available is inconclusive. The Botswana government has released a statement explaining that investigations are ongoing and that laboratories had been identified to process samples taken from the carcasses of dead elephants.
To avoid further speculation and prevent the deaths of more elephants in their last remaining stronghold, it’s vital that investigations are expedited so that the cause of death can be determined and suitable action taken.
Willie Breedt, the alleged bitcoin and cryptocurrency scammer, has been declared bankrupt.
News24 earlier reported around 2 000 investors in Breedt's defunct company, VaultAge Solutions (VS), stand to lose around R227 million after promises by Breedt to pay out their investments and growth were not honoured.
On Friday, one of the biggest investors, who entrusted R7.5 million to Breedt, Simon Dix from Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, successfully applied for a sequestration order against Breedt.
The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted the order to Dix.
In January, Breedt moved from Krugersdorp in Gauteng to the luxury Marina Martinique Estate in Aston Bay near Jeffreys Bay.
Two weeks ago, he hurriedly went into hiding after some irate investors, allegedly led by a colonel in the South African National Defence Force, called in the services of a group of "debt collectors" to find Breedt and recover their money from him.
He opened a case of intimidation with police in Jeffreys Bay just before disappearing.
While awaiting the verdict of the sequestration application by Dix, investigators managed to track Breedt down at a guest house in the Silver Lakes Estate in Pretoria.
It was also established that Breedt did not book into the guesthouse under his own name but that of a friend, possibly to try and hide his identity.
Shortly after the order was granted to Dix, the sheriff of the court, assisted by the police, the Hawks and a team of specialist cryptocurrency forensic investigators, raided a house in Silver Lakes where Breedt had allegedly been hiding since mid-June.
They served the court order on him while he was with a medical doctor friend who also resides in Silver Lakes.
During the raid, numerous electronic devices, among others a laptop and nano stick, were confiscated.
The nano stick is a secure storage device which might contain information of where the bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies Breedt traded might be.
Cryptocurrency is usually kept in a crypto wallet, to which only the owner has access.
The group of investors were earlier also granted a court order to freeze two South African bank accounts belonging to Breedt and VS.
Despite rumours that Breedt was arrested on Friday, News24 confirmed that this was not true.
In the meantime, the South African Reserve Bank has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers to launch an investigation into VS and all agents who were involved in selling cryptocurrency on behalf of the company.
Vodacom M-Pesa has announced the expansion of its International Money Transfer service portfolio. Vodacom customers will now have the option and ability to easily transfer and receive funds from individuals across more than 200 countries worldwide.
This was said recently at an international day of family remittances event held in Dar es Salaam where stakeholders met to deliberate on the future of International Remittance post COVID 19.
Speaking during a panel discussion on the same, Assistant Manager, Oversight and Policy at Directorate of National Payment Systems from Bank of Tanzania (BOT) Albert Cezari said the national bank has increased limits on digital transactions and reviewed balances of mobile wallets in a bid to provide relief and ensure continuity of services as part of measures taken amidst COVID-19.
On his part, Vodacom Tanzania PLC Managing Director Mr. Hisham Hendi, said that international remittances make possible people and small businesses to stay connected irrespective of geography.
According to World Bank Figures, Tanzania recent remittances stood at $430 million, an increase of $25 million from 2019. The sum represents 0.8 percent of the country’s GDP.
Private hospitals in Zimbabwe are charging massive amounts of money - in foreign currency - for Covid-19 treatment.
With government hospitals ill-equipped, and with doctors and nurses on strike, the only hope available for those needing treatment is private care - something beyond the reach of many.
“Kindly be advised that all Covid patients are required to pay USD (American dollars) deposits, $60 (R1,080) for casualty, $3,000 (R54,000) for General Ward and $5,000 (R90,000) for ICU (Intensive Care) hospitalisation,” Obedience Ncube, credit controller for the Catholic run Mata Dei Hospital in Bulawayo, said in a statement.
A government worker earns the equivalent of US$30 (R540), which is about half the fee for a basic Covid-19 test at a private hospital.
Nurses this week said “no USD salaries, no work” as they vowed to stay away.
“The salaries we are currently earning are meagre. They amount to slave wages ... to those who have been subsidising our employer by going to work, mostly because you have an alternative source of income, we call upon you to reconsider this and withdraw your labour as well,” the Zimbabwe Nurses' Association (Zina) said.
The situation has been made worse with the skeleton staff at public health-care facilities testing positive for Covid-19, thereby being sent home for quarantine. Sixty-eight nurses (student and managers) tested positive in one day at the United Bulawayo Hospitals and they have since been sent home. They were tested after one patient died of the disease.
The government this month began hiring newly graduated nurses but some of them don’t want to report to work.
“I was assigned to a Covid-19 centre. I won’t go because my contract stipulates that I have three months to report for duty. This is like being deployed to the war front after training and above all there’s no money,” said a male nurse.
In Harare, The Avenues Clinic said it has put in place “elective admissions” whereby “emergency cases should have at least an RTD (resistance temperature detector) done”.
The hospital also said all admissions should provide proof of a Covid-19 negative test.
To date, Zimbabwe has recorded 605 confirmed cases, 166 recoveries and seven deaths out of 68,400 tests.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered amendments that would allow him to remain in power until 2036 to be put into the Russian Constitution after voters approved the changes during a week-long plebiscite.
According to a copy of the decree released by the Russian government on Friday, the amendments will come into force on Saturday.
"The amendments come into force. They come into force, without overstating it, at the people's will," Putin said after he signed a decree to have the constitution revised.
"We made this important decisions together, as a country," the Russian president said during a video-conference with legislators who worked on drafting the amendments.
The changes allow Putin to run for two more six-year terms after his current one expires in 2024, but also outlaw same-sex marriages, mention the "belief in God as a core value" and emphasise the primacy of Russian law over international norms.
Putin proposed amending the constitution in January and insisted on putting the language on his eligibility for office and the other topics up to a nationwide vote that was not legally required after the changes were approved by Russia's parliament and rubber-stamped by the country's Constitutional Court.
The citizens' vote was initially scheduled for April 22 but postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The balloting concluded on Wednesday amid widespread reports of pressure on voters and other irregularities.
Kremlin critics denounced the results of the plebiscite - with 78 percent "yes" votes and a nearly 68 percent turnout - as falsified and undermining the legitimacy of the amendments.
Central Election Commission Chairwoman Ella Pamfilova rejected the accusations on Friday, saying the results of the vote are "authentic" and their legitimacy is "indisputable".
"The vote was carried out with the utmost transparency," she said.
Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, Russia's lower house of Parliament, said on Friday legislators would start working on bills implementing the amendments immediately, without taking their traditional summer break.
The Nigerian Government has revealed plans to end the monopoly enjoyed by cable television service providers, especially Digital Satellite Television, owned by MultiChoice, a South Africa-based company.
The plan is said to include ending exclusive rights to sporting events.
Only DStv currently broadcasts major football competitions in Nigeria, especially the English Premier League.
The government said it had amended Nigeria’s broadcasting code to prevent DStv and others from monopolising their channels and contents.
The House has been probing DStv for allegedly cheating its Nigerian subscribers by restricting them to prepaid plans and increasing its subscription rates on June 1, 2020, despite the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown on the people.
At the continuation of the investigative hearings organised by an ad hoc committee of the House on the matter in Abuja on Tuesday, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had dismissed claims by DStv that pay-per-view was not proper for the Nigerian market.
Mohammed noted that StarTimes, the cable arm of the Nigerian Television Authority, was already operating for some years.
In an audio recording obtained by our correspondent, Mohammed could be heard responding to questions from the lawmakers.
The minister said, “On the issue of increase in price for subscribers, with the onset of COVID-19, one of the first things we did in the ministry with the NBC (National Broadcasting Commission) was to provide succour to broadcasters.
“We suspended payment for the initial two months to all broadcasters so that they would be able to absorb the impact of COVID-19. Therefore, it will be unfair for those for whom we have suspended payment to also at the same time increase their own fees. And I’m sure that the DG of NBC will take up this matter.”
On the issue of monopoly, Mohammed stated that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had in 2019 set up a board of enquiry to look into the activities of broadcasting stations, to ascertain the potency of the broadcasting code and broadcasting act to curtail and regulate the industry against excesses.
He added, “We took that opportunity also to make right recommendations to Mr President, including the breaking of the monopoly of the various giant operators. It is to the credit of Mr President that he did approve those recommendations.”
Mohammed noted that some recommendations would require that the National Assembly amend the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Act.
The minister said, “You will notice, in recent weeks, a lot of attacks on the ministry as a result of these amendments. These amendments have actually struck at the heart of monopoly. These amendments are, for once, giving back to Nigerians their own industry.”
Earlier, Chairman of the committee, Mr Unyime Idem, asked Mohammed and the acting Director General of the NBC, Armstrong Idachaba, to order DStv to suspend its recent rates’ increment.
Mohammed immediately ordered the Idachaba to issue the notice.
Idem had stated that the minister and all stakeholders present should ensure and commence full implementation of its directives.
The House committee’s order included “a marching order to the service providers, particularly Multichoice’s DStv, to reverse the recent June 1, 2020 price hike and revert to the old price as this is not the best of times to increase the prices of services, no matter the reasons for such increase, taking into consideration the ravaging effect of COVID-19 on the economy of Nigerians.”
It added, “Come up with a robust strategy to break the monopoly and open up the industry for larger participation. PAYG regime for the digital TV broadcasting in Nigeria, with particular reference to DStv, GOtv, StarTimes and Kwese TV.
“Deregulation of content right by DTH (direct-to home), DTT (digital terrestrial television) and IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) operators. Encouraging local content participation through content sharing.”
Source: PUNCH NIGERIA.
An analysis of financial inclusion in South Africa shows that affordability limits poor households’ access to formal financial services.
In our study, which looked at people’s use of financial goods and services between 2008 and 2015, we found that there was a general increase in use. But this was severely skewed to households with higher incomes.
Financial inclusion is broadly defined as the ability of people to access a range of affordable financial services. Among these are bank and savings accounts, loans and insurance products. Households that are financially excluded can’t take part in various forms of savings or wealth accumulation. These range from paying bills via direct debit to gaining favourable forms of credit.
The key policy implication of our findings is that more financial services should target low-income households. It should be a priority, given the high rate of exclusion among the poor.
Measuring use based on income
In general, there are four dimensions of financial inclusion: access, usage, quality and welfare. In our study, we focus on usage.
The financial services available in South Africa range from the well-known ones such as bank accounts and credit cards to the less well known ones such as hire purchase agreements and loans with “mashonisa” (loan sharks). In the South African context, a bank account remains the most used financial service. The number of unbanked adult individuals decreased from 17 million to 14 million between 2003 and 2017.
Our study is the first to thoroughly investigate the data from the National Income Dynamics Study. This study interviews the same households (if possible) every two years to track the changes in their income and non-income welfare over time.
One standout feature of the study is that it asks household heads about their usage of 14 financial services.
With the aid of some statistical techniques, we developed an aggregate financial usage index to investigate the profile of people who were comprehensively financially included.
What we found
The study found that the increased use of financial products and services was mostly associated with higher income households. The other characteristics of individuals and households that showed higher usage of financial services were: middle-aged, male, white, more educated, urban residents in Western Cape and Gauteng provinces. They came from bigger households with more employed members.
The likelihood of complete financial exclusion was more prevalent in poor rural households living in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces. Almost invariably, these households were made up of black people. The study also found that households with low real per capita income and fewer employed members were associated with greater likelihood of financial exclusion. Households bigger in size and headed by middle-aged people were associated with significantly higher financial inclusion and lower likelihood of complete financial exclusion.
The table below presents the proportion of households with at least one adult member having some form of the observed financial services. The results indicate that there has been an increase in the use of most financial services between waves 1 (2008) and 4 (2014/2015). In particular, the proportion of households that have at least one member with a bank account increased from almost 57% in wave 1 (2008) to over 78% by wave 4 (2014/2015), while those with a personal loan from a bank nearly doubled (8.63% to 16.41%) between the first (2008) and last waves (2014/2015).
We also considered variables from informal financial sources, such as loans from mashonisa (loan sharks), which have increased from 1.69% in wave 1 to 2.97% in wave 4, and loans from a family member, friend or employer, which increased from less than 2.85% to 8.76%. The use of other important services, such as hire purchase agreements, store cards and pension or retirement annuity plans, also increased across the four waves. There is a decrease in the use of some of the major financial services. For example, households where at least one member reported to have a home loan or bond were at 8.63% in wave 1 and gradually declined over the years, ending up at 5.68% by wave 4. There was also a slight decline in study loans and vehicle finance.
One finance source that particularly stands out is the use of credit cards, which decreased from 12.5% (wave 1) to 9.74% (wave 4).
In all four waves, households that were regarded as poor had relatively lower rates of use of each source of finance.
The figure below shows the proportion of households that were completely financially excluded (they didn’t have any of the 14 sources of finance). It more than halved between the first (36.77%) and fourth (16.40%) waves.
Supporting alternative, black finance access and usage is one possibility. This may range from low-cost bank accounts and products to advanced technologies that deliver financial services to the excluded in a swift, affordable and efficient manner.
Other countries can be used as a case study.
For instance, in India, the government and private providers have worked together to grow access to financial products such as insurance at a lower cost. The Indian government founded a social security fund that finances insurance companies to subsidise insurance premium policies offered to poorer households. This initiative has provided over two million poor Indians with access to insurance policies.
The promotion of money pools is also another option. A study conducted from five Caribbean countries showed that money pools, where poor people pool their money and create collective banks, helped people save. In Cameroon, the practice of lending and saving through kinship and financial networks was found to be more trusted than the mainstream.
This clearly calls for a proactive financial system that promotes such channels and one that is trusted by the general public, especially low-income earners.
But financial inclusion initiatives directed at the poor should be closely monitored. This is because they don’t always have a positive impact, particularly on poor people.
Trade between Malawi and Mozambique using the ports of Beira and Nacala went down by 13 percent in the past two months, mainly due to travel restrictions in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
This is according to a report released by shipping and clearing firm, Fortress Business and Logistics Consult.
Speaking in an interview, Fortress Business and Logistics Consult Chief Executive Officer, Karl Chokotho, said annual volumes through Mozambique corridors make up to around 20 percent of the total Malawi imports and exports.
He said the trend in these corridors is a fair indication on what is happening in the economy.
He said over 70 percent of Malawi exports peak in the second half of the year, and that the real Covid-19 impact is yet to be felt.
The Times Group
Equatorial Guinea has agreed to pause the construction of a controversial border wall with Cameroon after talks between the two countries’ defense ministers in Yaoundé.
The two sides also agreed once again to withdraw troops from their disputed border after deadly clashes left at least seven people dead. An agreement earlier this month to withdraw forces failed to hold and some border traders are skeptical of this latest pact.
After a second day of closed-door meetings in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea’s Defense Minister Leandro Bekale Nkogo said the two sides agreed to set aside their differences.
Nkogo on Tuesday announced Equatorial Guinea would pause construction of its controversial border wall, which Cameroon’s government says violates its territory.
He says troops from the two countries that have been deployed to the border will return to their barracks and only come out to protect their civilians in times of crisis. Nkogo says Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea will henceforth jointly combat their common enemies, who are poachers, pirates resurfacing in the Gulf of Guinea, and armed groups attacking and looting civilians in both countries.
Nkogo said as neighbors, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea need each other for their security and development.
Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema ordered the border wall be built in 2019 to stop Cameroonians and West Africans from illegally entering the country.
Cameroon deployed its army to stop what it called an intrusion of border markers, leading to armed conflicts and casualties.
An agreement earlier this month to pull back troops, and jointly demarcate the border, apparently failed.
Cameroon says at least seven of its civilians were killed in border clashes that followed in the southwestern town of Kye-Ossi.
But Cameroon’s Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo on Tuesday said both sides were firm in seeking an end the border tensions.
He says the wish of Cameroon’s President Paul Biya is to see Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea become the true brotherly and friendly nations that they were at the dawn of independence.
He says both countries have sociological, cultural and geographic relations that should encourage the people of the two states to live in peace and harmony.
Despite the agreements Monday, not all traders along the border were convinced that the skirmishes will end.
40-year-old Cameroonian merchant Angelica Amende, who buys wine from Equatorial Guinea to sell back home, doubts the border dispute can soon be resolved.
She says she does not think there is a political will to solve the crisis on Cameroon’s border with Equatorial Guinea. She says it is not the first-time high-profile delegations have met on the instructions of the two heads of state and the border crisis is yet to end.
Equatorial Guinea has often accused Cameroon of not doing enough to stop its citizens and other West Africans from crossing the border illegally.
In 2017, Equatorial Guinea sealed its border with Cameroon for six months after authorities on both sides arrested heavily armed foreigners and accused them plotting to overthrow Obiang.
The two countries’ leaders are Africa’s longest-serving presidents. Obiang has ruled Equatorial Guinea since 1979, while Biya has ruled Cameroon since 1982.
Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea in 2017 joined four other states in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) in agreeing to lift visa requirements.
Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo have since accused Equatorial Guinea of dragging its feet on allowing the free movement of people and goods.