The international business world has been watching as Gabon, a West African coastal country with two main ports at Port Gentil and Owendo, Libreville, continues to focus on trade to strengthen its economy.
The Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ), a joint venture between Olam International and the Republic of Gabon, received a US$140 million investment from the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), which will allow the Gabon government to make a number of significant changes and developments to infrastructure and ongoing economic projects.
Latest Port Developments
Last month, the country’s President, Mr Ali Bongo, officially inaugurated the New Owendo International Port (NOIP), some 18 kms south of Libreville. The new facility first opened for business in June 2017 and offers a 25% reduction in handling costs while doubling Owendo’s capacity. It provides extended transatlantic opportunities for trade and should result in a reduction in the cost of living for the Gabonese who rely heavily on imported goods.
Gabon is currently the fifth largest oil producer in Africa but it also has well-established timber and mining industries. To consolidate its economy, the country aims to reduce its dependence on crude oil, to diversify its use of sustainable energies in and around the ports, and to promote Gabon’s exports of wood, agricultural and mined goods.
The New Port comprises a two-berth 420-metre quay with both fixed and gantry cranes to handle up to 150,000 containers a year and reduce the duration of port calls. Four grain silos and seven palm oil tanks complete the new port’s facilities.
This latest development is one of several joint ventures which have extended and enhanced Gabon’s ports in recent years.
Other Transportation Developments
There have also been a number of big steps forward recently to improve other forms of transport. Almost one and a half thousand kilometres of roads have been built in the last 8 years. Extensions to airports and additional runways have been ongoing in the past year; and the revamping of railways has contributed to an increase in the intranational transport of minerals.