Interview: Thierry Mickoto
What are the short- and mid-term strategic sectors identified by the FGIS at a national level?
THIERRY MICKOTO: Within the framework of our investment strategy, designed to be in line with the Emerging Gabon strategic plan and its main pillars, the FGIS has identified certain sectors with considerable growth potential in the mid term.
In light of the current data, the primary sector industries that we have identified are agriculture, livestock and forestry, particularly wood transformation. In terms of secondary sectors, the targeted industries are energy and construction of infrastructure, in line with the country’s sustainable development plans. Finally, among the industries involving the tertiary sector we have identified hospitality and tourism. In the coming years, a significant amount of financial resources from the Sovereign Fund of the Republic of Gabon (Fonds Souverain de la République Gabonaise, FSRG) will be allocated to the aforementioned sectors as a priority.
How can Gabon and the FGIS encourage greater private investment in local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)?
MICKOTO: For many years, Gabon has been implementing a policy to encourage investment in SMEs. Economic and tax policies that take into consideration these kind of companies already exist. The Gabonese authorities are currently working with local and international financial institutions to revitalise them. In this regard, a number of forums and conferences have been organised to connect private investors and local SMEs. For example, the French Development Agency and Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l'Industrie du Gabon signed an agreement granting small and affordable loans to local SMEs. Furthermore, discussions are now being held with the African Development Bank and the African Fund for Guarantee and Economic Cooperation in order to foster the development of Gabonese SMEs.
The current strategy of promotion adopted by the state has proved successful and should produce results shortly. However, with the state unable to undertake such a long-term project by itself, we have decided to create a new investment company, which is known as Okoumé. This new entity, which is currently being established and will be operational soon, will be provided with CFA20bn (€30.5m) and its direct mission will be investing in Gabonese SMEs, focusing on prioritised sectors.
In what ways can the FGIS play a greater role in helping to develop capital markets?
MICKOTO: The FGIS is aimed at investing FSRG resources into strategic and long-term profitable products. In this sense, the same way we consider investing in unlisted companies and other important development projects, we also take into account the stock exchange as an investment. We have the option of purchasing shares of companies listed on the stock exchange, as well as subscribing to private or sovereign bonds. In this regard, the FGIS has the capacity to stimulate stock exchanges in the region.
When looking into opportunities to acquire equity participation in a company, disclosures made through stock exchange listings have always been part of our scenarios. Moreover, the disposal of some investments that we have already made using the stock exchange can be considered a privileged option in the near future. Taking into consideration that our mission is to ensure a comfortable level of resources for coming generations, profitability is an essential factor in all of our current investments. The FGIS’s political priorities are to help the Gabonese government as much as possible in reaching the goals of the Emerging Gabon strategic plan. Through solid financial structure and partnerships with reliable private operators we ensure our objective of turning development projects into significant social initiatives that provide the highest long-term profitability rate.
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