Interview: Raymond Ndong Sima
How has the Emerging Gabon strategy affected the local economy so far?
RAYMOND NDONG SIMA : The plan, Emerging Gabon, which will be going through its launch phase from 2012 to 2016, needs a variety of partners. Beyond our traditional partners, we are principally looking for investors in industrial development, for value addition in our natural ecosystem and for improvement in our services. For example, firms that want to invest in local processing of raw materials destined for export, and those that wish to harness the formidable potential of the tourism sector, are welcome to participate alongside Gabonese companies in the development of this vast and ambitious project.
Concerning the Industrial Gabon portion of the strategy, the priorities include – among others – roads, energy and local processing of raw materials. With roads, the idea is not to simply build new ones but to rehabilitate those that are in a poor state. To achieve this, the government has created a second-generation Fund for Road Maintenance to secure financing. As for energy, the government is aimingto double supply by 2016. To this end, major projects to build dams and hydroelectric power stations have been launched. Reinforcement works have also been undertaken for the national electricity transport network. To increase the creation of wealth in the country, the processing of raw materials has become the priority. The special economic zones being built will offer investment platforms with advantageous conditions and fiscal incentives.
The sectors on which a particular emphasis is being placed in the framework of the Green Gabon segment of the Emerging Gabon strategy are agriculture, fishing and the environment. In the first two cases, the objective is to increase local production in order to reduce our dependence on imported foodstuffs, which is substantial.
As for the environment, the government is mobilising all of its resources to ensure Gabon has a green economy. A National Authority for the Clean Development Mechanism (Autorité Nationale pour le Mécanisme de Développement Propre) has been created with this end in mind.
Finally, the development of telecommunications is a cornerstones of the Services Gabon section. With this in mind, the government has undertaken major works on the connection to the submarine fibre-optic cable “Africa Coast to Europe”, which will be operational in Libreville by the end of 2012, to be disseminated to all of Gabon’s cities.
What sort of reforms are on the table to attract further investment into non-traditional sectors?
NDONG SIMA: In most sectors, fiscal codes corresponding to international investor security and guarantee standards have been implemented or will be in the near future. In 2012 the public procurement code was prepared in the same spirit.
Finally, on a financial level, the government is adopting responsible management of its financial resources, in order to improve its international credit with the intention of benefitting from – and having local companies benefit from – access to long-term financing at competitive costs.
We are also working to make the government administration more effective, efficient and competent. One of the ways we are doing this is through the completion of a process, which began several months ago, to improve governance and harmonise the administrative status of public sector representatives. In total, we will have regularised close to 47,000 files of civil servants, some of which had not been reviewed for many years.
All of these initiatives aim to overhaul the government’s relationship with the public, in order to improve the professionalism and the reactivity that can be expected from the administration. This will then allow the bureaucracy to work with investors keen on working in an attractive business climate.
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