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Gabon Emergent

Former French colony makes remarkable strides in economic development

Keith Boyfield - April 2012

Gabon: 50 years after independence from France will its market orientated strategy to achieve emerging nation status be realised?

A return visit to Gabon, the rapidly growing oil-rich former French colony bordering Cameroon and Congo, offered an excellent opportunity to see the remarkable strides this country is making terms of infrastructure development .  Gabon is currently the sixth largest oil producer in Africa with 30 fields in production. According to latest estimates compiled by BP, Gabon has 3.7 bn barrels of proven reserves, the largest in its continental region. The country also benefits from very large natural gas deposits, estimated at over 39 bn cubic metres.

Long dependent on commodity exports such as oil and manganese, the Government is now determined to diversity its economy and attract inward investment to build up its manufacturing and service sector. This strategy is already reaping rewards. Major investors such as Olam International have opted to invest in palm oil cultivation and processing and it is also the leading investor in the Nkok Special Economic Zone, which has attracted 40 companies from nine different countries. Development of this 1,126 hectare site has now moved into phase two of development, ahead of schedule. A $60 m loan agreement for this second phase has now been completed between the Gabonese government, Olam International and the Central Afri...

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