Transition drive

Gabon has seen stable growth over the past five years, aided in part by a government drive to promote diversification in line with its Emerging Gabon Strategic Plan. However, its continued dependence on oil has left the country vulnerable to external shocks, and the low-price environment of 2014 and 2015 will likely cause complications for the next two to three years, as the authorities grapple with lower budgets and greater debt challenges.

10 15 19 25 26 28 30 31 33 34 Gabon in figures Steady ahead: An upper-middle-income economy driven by commodities Finding the path: Short-term cyclical pressures present political challenges Continental links: Cooperation between and within African regions increases Interview: President Ali Bongo Ondimba Partners new and old: Broadening its diplomatic and economic ties Interview: Prime Minister Daniel Ona Ondo All together: Regional economic integration holds promise beyond the hurdles Viewpoint: Joe Biden, US Vice-President Viewpoint: Pierre Moussa, President, CEMAC Commission Oil is the lifeblood of Gabon’s economy, representing half of state revenues and around 80% of export earnings in 2014. The absence of major new discoveries, declining production at mature fields and the halving of oil prices over the past year have dampened the shortterm outlook, leading to a push for enhanced oil recovery and new exploration. If confirmed, recent offshore gas discoveries will help to boost output.

37 45 46 47 48 49 50 52 54 59 66 67 Transition drive: A tight fiscal environment encourages the continued acceleration of reforms Interview: Régis Immongault, Minister of Economy Interview: Madeleine Berre, President, Gabonese Employers’ Confederation; Partner & General Manager, Deloitte Legal and Tax Making it easier: Measures to improve the business climate are accelerating Balancing the books: The government reins in spending in light of lower oil prices Interview: Nina Abouna, Director-General, National Investment Promotion Agency (ANPI) Strategic funding: The nation’s sovereign wealth fund builds momentum Fostering cooperation: Efforts to achieve regional economic integration continue Reviewing the plan: Progress towards the goal of reaching emerging market status Age of exploration: New discoveries have stoked hopes of increased production Interview: Etienne Dieudonné Ngoubou, Minister of Petroleum and Hydrocarbons Well informed: Explorers are excited about pre-salt prospects Banking growth is expected to be subdued due to the fall in oil prices, though new developments such as the introduction of mobile money services and increased inter-bank cooperation have served the sector in good stead over the long run. Insurance, meanwhile, grew by 3.3% in 2014, mainly due to the uptick in industry and infrastructure activity. Solutions for rural power: Working towards the goal of universal access by 2035 Interview: Serge Toulekima, CEO, Gabon Oil Company Set for inclusion: Despite low penetration levels, reforms are set to boost the banking sector On the go: New cash transfer options are expected to boost penetration The more the merrier: Increased inter-bank cooperation should help to address funding shortages Interview: Edgar Théophile Anon, Managing Director, BGFIB ank Gabon A first step: More listings are expected as firms look to the exchange 85 90 92 94 99 100 101 102 106 114 115 116 117 118 124 127 137 138 Risk aversion: A dynamic insurance sector spurs foreign and local players Reaching out: Market growth will depend on increasing penetration levels and widening coverage Interview: Bernard Bartoszek, Former President, Federation of Gabonese Insurance Companies Ready to sprout: New measures put the sector in a stronger position Interview: Gagan Gupta, Country Head, Olam Interview: Gert Vandersmissen, Group COO, SIAT Encouraging entrepreneurship: Planting the seeds of self-sufficiency from the bottom up Financial tools add promise: Though not short on challenges, forestry has room for growth Branching out: Investment in value-added production drives growth in the industrial sector Interview: Christophe Akagha-Mba, Minister of Mines, Industry and Tourism Open for business: The development of the first special economic zone is showing promise Reaping the harvest: Fertiliser production is set to take off, supported by a wealth of natural resources Interview: Fabrice Nzé-Békalé, CEO, Société Equatoriale des Mines (SEM) Heavy metal: The country’s rich ore deposits are still very much untapped Clarifying the rules: The ins and outs of new pending legislation on mining A time of transformation: Expanding and improving infrastructure to facilitate growth Interview: Rigobert Ikambouayat Ndeka, Managing Director, Office of Ports and Harbours of Gabon (OPRAG) Interview: Patrick Claes, Managing Director, Setrag The government is aiming to boost agriculture’s contribution to GDP to 20% by 2025 through partnership with international institutions and private enterprises. It also intends to reduce food imports, which reached €523.8m in 2014. Efforts are under way to ensure that sector management is sustainable.

139 141 145 149 152 153 157 161 167 171 177 178 180 181 190 193 200 201 202 204 Connecting the dots: A new project will finally link the main cities of Libreville and Port-Gentil by road Filling the gap: External financing helps to support infrastructure development Making great strides: Investments are forging ahead despite recent challenges On the market: Government efforts are focused on working through obstacles to development No place like home: A shortage of affordable housing is spurring development in the real estate sector Interview: Paul Mapessi, Managing Director, Société Nationale du Logement Social (SNLS) Generation game: Many opportunities should result from the arrival of 3G and 4G services in the country Net gains: Web access is set to continue to grow with government support Interview: Alex Bernard Bongo Ondimba, Managing Director, National Agency for Digital Infrastructure and Frequencies (ANINF) Opening doors to investment: Restructuring and expansion are expected to boost visitor arrival numbers The eco alternative: Promoting private investment in natural attractions Luxury bed count: Increasing accommodation options alongside the broader expansion of the sector Interview: Lee White, Managing Director, National Agency for National Parks (Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux, ANPN) Deloitte Rules and regulations: The ins and outs of the tax code, including recent changes Interview: Nicolas Balesme, Associate, Deloitte Gabon Deloitte Regulatory change: Recent reforms further enhance investor-friendly legislation Beyond the touchline: Football remains inextricably linked with broader developments Lap of luxury: A look at hotels Listings: Useful contact information for ministries, embassies, travel services and more Facts for visitors: Information for first-time travellers to the country With 5% growth in the secondary sector in 2014, Gabon’s industrialisation continues apace under the Emerging Gabon plan, supported by investors in agro-industry, construction materials, forestry and petrochemicals. Special economic zones are being developed to process raw commodities into products with higher value added, fed partly by new projects in the mining sector.

While ongoing infrastructure projects are providing a steady supply of work for construction firms, fiscal constraints have led to a reduction in public investment.

Access to land remains a key obstacle for real estate development. To address this, the government has introduced reforms to reduce wait times for land titles from as much as 10 years down to 180 days. The launch of 3G and 4G in 2014 should provide new revenue streams in the telecoms sector, and the focus in the near term will be on improving data capacity and network quality. Growing demand for digital services and the commercialisation of access to Gabon’s second submarine cable are helping to lay the foundations for a rise in activity in the ICT sector. The industry’s potential has garnered attention from the government and private operators, with the state aiming to boost visitor numbers to 100,000 per year by 2020. The majority of visitors come for business, but luxury tourism projects are in the works to diversify the offer. Ecotourism and luxury are two promising segments that could help boost the sector’s contribution to GDP.

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