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Owendo Port leads a logistics revolution in Gabon

August 27, 2019

One of the questions that global investors and commentators often ask about Africa is what next after the continent’s vast natural resources have been exploited? Well, that question has been answered emphatically in Gabon through several initiatives that are modernizing and industrializing the Gabonese economy.

One of these initiatives is the GSEZ New Owendo Port that is revolutionizing the maritime industry in Gabon and broader Central African region. The Port is part of a unique and dynamic Public Private Partnership between the Gabonese Government, Olam International and Africa Finance Corporation that was formed with the aim of diversifying the Gabonese economy away from oil to other sectors of the economy.

While the oil industry has been good for this nation of 1.8 million people, boasting one of the highest GDP per capita in the region and one of the highest Human Development Index in Sub-Saharan Africa, overreliance on the turbulent oil markets is not sustainable for the country.

Other oil producing countries are setting up sovereign funds to capture oil profits and reinvesting them in other sectors of the economy as a way of diversifying their economies and boosting their revenues. However, Gabon is doing things differently by partnering with the private sector to organically develop the economy through investing in infrastructure and boosting the country’s industrial capacity.

Given that the oil industry accounts for more than 50 percent of Gabon’s GDP and 80 percent of the country’s export earnings, diminishing production and the oil price downturn have hurt the nation’s economy – giving rise to a need to grow other sectors of the economy.

On the back of Gabon’s vast timber resources, new productive industries are being developed, making Gabon the second biggest producer of veneer in the world. At the centre of this modernization of Gabon is a sophisticated logistics network that connects the ports, airports, rail and road networks in a seamless fashion to allow for the delivery of goods and services more efficiently and cost-effectively for local and global markets.

Théophile Ogandaga, GSEZ Deputy Director says: “The SEZ model has been groundbreaking in many respects for the country of Gabon. Our partnership with the Gabon government, has resulted in a package of attractive incentives for global investors to invest in the country. These include zero corporate tax for the first 10 years; the easy repatriation of profits out of the country, and others, has seen an increase in the number of foreign companies establishing operations in Gabon.

“We are replicating this model in other African countries to unlock their potential, create jobs and grow their economies.”

The GSEZ New Owendo Port offers a comprehensive logistics solution to customers. It is a multi-modal platform that is easily accessible by sea, road and rail. The goods can be distributed anywhere in the country and in the broader Central African region.

The words “efficiency” and “cost-effectiveness” are not only the buzzwords for Ogandaga and his colleagues at GSEZ but is a “mantra” that is gaining traction in the whole of the Gabon business world.

Conceptualized in 2012. The purpose was to offer comprehensive and cost-effective solutions for all businesses wishing to export or import their production to and from Gabon. The brand-new harbor facility has been so far a powerful key-driver for investors wanting to start production in the Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ) of Nkok. From sourcing to exports, GSEZ is now offering them end-to-end solutions to make their business successful in Gabon.

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