On this day dedicated to strengthening economic cooperation between the United Kingdom and Gabon, the Head of State delivered a speech to an audience of 500 British investors in which he presented the economic opportunities offered by his country.
He highlighted the ambitious goals set by the Emerging Gabon development policy and emphasised the need to diversify Gabon’s economy, in particular by forging strong relationships with new partners from the private sector.
“Our strategy is clear; we want to partner with companies and investors who are looking for long term sustainable returns. (…) We have set out an ambitious agenda. We won’t achieve our goals without the active support of the private sector. We are looking for the right partnerships to help us. We don’t want patronage. We want partners. We don’t want handouts, we want investors. We are looking for companies to help us to realise the full value of the assets that we have; for long term returns, for many years to come.”
Setting out his ambition to attract a large number of British companies to Gabon, the President stressed that his development strategy needed to be backed up with a competitive and environmentally friendly private sector capable of generating jobs.
“Our motive for pursuing such a strategy is simple: we want more jobs and better livelihoods for our citizens, today, tomorrow and long into the future. For this reason we won’t accept forms of development that compromise our natural environment.”
Over the course of the day, participants attended breakout sessions during which the Gabonese ministers present were able to provide them with information on the following four themes:
- Overview of Gabon’s economic opportunities;
- Investments in the Gabonese industrial, energy and mining sectors;
- Infrastructure development and foreign trade operations in Gabon;
- Investments in the Gabonese agricultural, tourism and environmental sectors.
During one of these sessions, the Minister in charge of investment promotion, Magloire Ngambia, said that Gabon intends to attract a variety of investors, not only in the traditional sectors of the Gabonese economy (oil and mining), but also in growth sectors with high added value, such as new technologies, agriculture and tourism. He also mentioned that Gabon had initiated reforms to lay the foundations for a more business-friendly economic climate:
“Establishing the framework needed for business development and improving transparency and governance are the top priorities of my department.”
Gabon is abundant in natural resources and has been receiving increasing foreign direct investment. It is one of the most prosperous countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It has the region’s third highest GDP per capita, an annual growth rate of more than 6% since 2010, and a per capita income of just under USD 9,000. Furthermore, economic activity is set to grow further, bolstered by exports of raw materials and a significant recovery in domestic production.
The leader of the Gabonese State closed the forum by repeating his desire for a tangible strengthening of economic ties between the two countries for the benefit of investors and for the benefit of the people of the United Kingdom and Gabon.
“We need to work together with you to build a strong, sustainable and vibrant economy which benefits all parties: investors, governments and, of course, our communities. It is my hope and belief that in conclusion to today’s forum, we will build new and stronger relationships that will provide the foundations for future beneficial collaboration. I sincerely hope that these initial discussions will serve as a catalyst to drive tangible commercial agreements and partnerships going forwards.”