Nina Alida Abouna,
President Ali Bongo Ondimba has set himself the goal of placing Gabon among the emerging nations. Could you explain to us what this project involves and what means have been adopted to achieve this goal?
As part of his mandate, the President of the Republic, Head of State, His Excellency Ali Bongo Ondimba is pursuing the accomplishment of a social project for the emergence of Gabon by 2025 by virtue of diversification of the economy, sustainable exploitation of its resources and improvement in the Gabonese quality of life. The implementation of this project has a three-pronged approach for structural transformation and growth; Green Gabon, Industrial Gabon and Gabon as Service Provider.
What are the priority sectors for direct foreign investment today?
Can you remind us of the measures implemented recently to increase the attractiveness of the Gabonese economy and improve the business environment?
With respect to its positioning in the “Doing Business ranking”, Gabon aims to enter the TOP 10 of African nations. To achieve this, special emphasis is placed on reduction of costs, deadlines and procedures for business development, investor protection, transfer of ownership, implementation of contracts, granting building permits and crossborder trade. A financing agreement for the Promotion of Investment and Competitiveness Project has been arranged with the World Bank.
The following bodies have been set up with a view to enhancing support for the private sector:
• An Investment and Export Promotion Agency (APIEX) providing support, advice and promotion of the private sector.
• The Enterprise Development Centre with a single desk for businesses start-ups enabling a substantial reduction in the time required for start-ups from 58 days to under a week.
• A National Town-planning and Topographical Surveying Agency and Land Register reducing the procedures for granting building permits and transferring ownership.
With regard to the incentives framework, Gabon has common-law incentives available for all businesses and other incentives set down in sector codes. One of the most important reforms was the creation of the special economic zones (ZES) which provide simplification of administrative formalities and tax incentives for investors.
How does APIEX assist companies interested in the Gabonese market?
• The provision of relevant information on the country and the sectors with strong potential growth (economic indicators, fiscal and nonfiscal incentives, administrative procedures and production factors). The web site is a strategic tool in this area.
• A facilitatory service to assist investors in economic operators at the different stages of their investment (administrative formalities).
• A monitoring service which facilitates and triggers renewed investment
We can certainly say that APIEX offers investors a tailor-made service covering the quest for information, completion of the project and project-monitoring.
• A beacon of political stability in a neighborhood accustomed to turmoil
• Every post-independence change of rule in the country has been democratic
STRONG ECONOMIC INDICATORS
• Growth rates in Gabon have beaten industrialized nations and even some BRICS countries over the past 5 years
• Economic forecasts are very positive, as Gabon diversifi es away from its reliance on oil exports
• Strong long-term investments have been made in infrastructure, social housing and education
INFRASTRUCTURE AND SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES (SEZ)
Gabon has three SEZs on the planning boards, which will offer fiscal incentives and infrastructure:
• Nkok, 30km from Libreville, will be operational in 2013, with 60+ companies, mostly active in wood processing
• Mandji Island, near Port Gentil, will be focused on the oil downstream and processing industries, as well as on high technology activity
• A third SEZ near Franceville and the Congo border will focus on agro-industrial and food processing
• Gabon’s geographic location makes it an entry point and hub for the region
• Access to the 120m person common monetary zone for CEMAC and the 450m person common customs area for CEEAC
Since 2009, a clear strategy to diversify the economy has been implemented to boost GDP by 2% to 3%.
Gabon is focusing on increasing activity:
• the wood sector, which includes attracting more stage 2 and stage 3 actors
• the downstream oil sector, with the development of petrochemical and fertilizer projects
• the mining sector, with increased manganese processing near Moanda
Other new segments – such as agro-processing, fi sheries, tourism and construction – are also being cultivated.
• Covered in tropical rain forest, with an 885-km coastline, 22m hectares of trees and numerous rivers, Gabon enjoys a wealth of natural resources
• The country is sub-Saharan Africa’s six-largest oil producer, several manganese mines and a huge iron ore deposit in Belinga which could potentially become the single-largest GDP component
FAVORABLE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
• Fitch ratings has granted Gabon a BB+ positive outlook rating
• There are numerous support services for investors, including APIEX
• The legal framework is clear and long-established, with guarantees for investors
See also: www.oecd.org/daf/inv/
© OECD Observer No 296 Q3 2013
“We offer investors a comprehensive, tailor-made service”
An interview with Nina Alida Abouna, Managing Director of the Investment and Export Promotion Agency (APIEX)
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