Diplomatist: India will receive a delegation from Gabon this month. What is the agenda for the visiting delegation?
Ms. Josephine Patricia Ntyam Ehya: The first agenda is: introducing the Gabonese agribusiness to Indian investors and to other foreign investors audience. During the conclave, on 14th June from 7:30 PM a special event will be organized jointly by AOM Gabon, ANPI and Centurion University of Odisha as far as Skill Development training is concerned.
The second agenda, in the margins of the Conclave, will happen on 16th June in Bangalore; 17th June in Meghalaya and 18th June in Odisha.
The Minister of Higher Education, head of the delegation has been invited to visit Ramaiah University and University of Science and Technology of Meghalaya and Centurion University of Odisha.
Diplomatist: What are the key industries in Gabon?
Ms. Josephine Patricia Ntyam Ehya:
Crude oil Industry: We are on the way to transform to petrochemicals. Indian investors are highly invited to bring their expertise.
Wood industry (timber sector): The transformation process has begun in 2010. We reached 3,7 million cube meters since 2021 compared to 1,9 million cube meters in 2012. Gabon is the first wood industry of the Central African Economic Zone (Cameroon is second: 2,4 million cube meters and Congo Brazzaville is third with 2,3 million cube meters).
Mining industry: We are ranked 2nd in the world in the deposit of manganese and the 3rd largest producer.
Agribusiness: This is new in the industrial sector. We are experimenting with food processing of the second generation with most units run by Gabonese. While the Gabonese Government is commencing a project named Agricultural SEZ with AOM whose expectations are tremendous for our country in terms of skill development, employment, and the growth of the agricultural sector including food processing.
Diplomatist: Which are the areas where Gabon and India can mutually work in partnership?
Ms. Josephine Patricia Ntyam Ehya: India and Gabon are already working through the dynamism of the Indian private sector. During the CII India-Africa Conclave, AOM and Greenply will be present to share their experience in the Gabonese industrial sector. But we have India also in sectors like telecommunications, IT, Pharmaceuticals, Crude oil, Mines (manganese and Gold soon), the restaurant sector, the tourism (at the level of travel agencies).
At the diplomatic level, both countries are together in Climate change, maritime security, counter-terrorism plea at the United Nations. On 29th October the Ministry of External Affairs of India organized a meeting on counter-terrorism under the chairmanship of Gabon at the United Nations Security Council. Our late Minister of Foreign Affairs, Michael MOUSSA ADAMO honoured the event of his active contribution as president of the meeting alongside Honourable Minister Dr. Jaishankar.
Diplomatist: Could you highlight the investment climate and opportunities in your country for foreign investors?
Ms. Josephine Patricia Ntyam Ehya: The investment policy in Gabon reserves foreign investors interesting tax incentives in the economic and industrial zones for 5 years. We have 3 zones where they can do business. SEZ NKOK which becomes for 2 weeks now a special industrial zone (SIZ); the IKOLO is a SIZ too and the BAIE DES ROIS, a SIZ specialized in services.
Diplomatist: What steps have been taken to promote Gabon to the Indian public to familiarize them with the richness of its opportunities?
Ms. Josephine Patricia Ntyam Ehya: Nothing special yet. But you are giving me the platform to announce that in Gabon we will organize the second edition of The Fashion Festival of Libreville (FEMOGA). It will happen from 3rd to 8th July 2023 in Libreville, Gabon.
From India, we have a partner, International Chamber of Media & Entertainment Industry. (ICMEI), Marwah Studios from Noida. It will be an honour to count them among the participants. Some months back in 2022, ICCR also sent a troupe of dancers.
Diplomatist: How does the world see Gabon?
Ms. Josephine Patricia Ntyam Ehya: According to the World Bank: in the context of the post-Covid pandemic, I quote them: “Gabon is gradually recovering supported by the good performance of the oil, mining and timber sectors, the services sector has grown. GDP is estimated at 3,1% in 2022”.
The World International Monetary Funds supported the Gabonese Republic those last years, especially to help Gabon to tackle positively the consequences of the Covid Pandemic on its Economy.
Though we are ranked 119th according to the IDH, the Government produced a lot for the Gabonese access to high-quality education (from 3 years old to 16 years old) and skill development. We have three governmental Universities and 2 from private higher education. The Government is planning to build 3 more Universities. The Minister of Higher Education is expecting the offer of an Indian investor for that purpose during the Conclave. More can be said but allow me to give you those general highlights.
To conclude, the Gabonese passport is 84th world rank, 57 destinations without visa when you have a Gabonese passport. To go to India a Gabonese needs to apply for an e-visa. But in Gabon, an Indian will get the visa on arrival.
Gabon’s economic growth has taken off under the leadership of His Excellency Mister President Ali BONGO ONDIMBA (2009 and 2016). We hope he returns to achieve all the tremendous projects on set through the PAT (Plan d’Accélération et de la Transformation) in English read as: Acceleration and Transformation Plan of the Gabonese Economy.