Gabon offers Attractive Incentives for Investors

17 August 2020

Message by H.E. Mr. André William ANGUILE, Gabonese Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa on the occasion of the celebration of the 60th Independence Anniversary of the Republic of Gabon

Your Excellency Minister PANDOR, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Colleagues,

Photo: Ambassador André William Anguile with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

On behalf of the President of the Republic of Gabon, H.E Ali BONGO ONDIMBA, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E Pacôme MOUBELET BOUBEYA, and the Gabonese people, I would like to extend my gratitude to the South African Government and people, DIRCO staff members, and the diplomatic missions and international organizations accredited to South Africa for joining us to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the independence of the Gabonese Republic remotely.

On the 17th of August 1960, Gabon and France signed the solemn act of independence declaring that we were no longer a colony of France, thus giving us sovereign access to the international community, committed with the principles of Unity, Labor and Justice.

The year 1960 was to be crucial for the whole of Africa because 17 sub-Saharan countries became independent from their European colonizers, 14 of them from France, including Gabon.

Gabon, a central African country of 267000 sq. kms, lying astride the Equator with 800 kms of Atlantic Ocean seacoast is rich in natural resources and with a young and vibrant population of around 2 million people for which almost half of it lives in Libreville, the capital city.

Gabon is endowed with riches including oil, fifth largest producer in Africa and 3rd largest manganese producer in the world and other minerals such as gold, diamond, iron ore, rare earth and 85% of its territory is covered with rainforest that shelters rare and awesome species of trees and wildlife as well as the unique Oklo reactor zone, the only known natural nuclear fission reactor on Earth which has been active for 2 billion years.

However, as the country is facing a decline in its oil prices and reserves, the Gabonese government has decided to diversify its economy and called for foreign investors to come and help develop the country, with attractive incentives in its free trade zones, in the agribusiness sector and the blue economy.

Recent measures to improve the business climate include a one-stop shop for investors, a public –private partnership (PPP) framework, a domestic arbitration court, and codes for hydrocarbons and mining.

South Africa established full diplomatic relations with Gabon on 15 October 1995 and there was a special relationship of friendship between the two former leaders and the two countries. As a matter of fact, almost a year after his release on February 11, 1990 from prison after spending 27 years in there, Nelson MANDELA chose Gabon as his first visit abroad on February 15, 1991 where he was welcomed as a hero by President Omar BONGO ONDIMBA and a large crowd outside the airport.

President Nelson MANDELA’s visit to Gabon to meet his counterpart President Omar BONGO ONDIMBA was the first of its kind during which the Father of the Nation thanked the people and government of Gabon for their contribution towards South Africa’s freedom. Indeed, Gabon contributed significantly to South Africa’s transition. This it did through its active involvement in Africa’s principled campaign against apartheid, and through Gabon’s unflinching solidarity with the liberation movement. President Thabo MBEKI’s visit in 1996 was a continuation of the good relations that exist between the Republic of Gabon and the Republic of South Africa. Closer to us, President Ali BONGO ONDIMBA’ s participation in the BRIC’s Summit in July 2018 in his capacity as Chairman of the Central African regional organization ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States) where he met with his counterpart President Cyril RAMAPHOSA was a clear example of the solid political and economic relations between our two countries.

Earlier in March 2016, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr. Luwellyn LANDERS visited the Gabonese Republic from 12 to 13 May 2016. He met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Gabonese Republic, Mr Calixte Isidore NSIE EDANG, providing an opportunity for the exchange of views on regional, continental and international issues of mutual concern and further strengthen the bilateral political and economic relations, expand the partnership and reaffirm the commitment to increase the trade volume which totals approximately R650 million.

In March 2017, the Department of Arts and Culture of South Africa partnered with the Department of Tourism of South Africa, in the framework of a 2005 Cultural Agreement on cultural exchange with Gabon, and in collaboration with the Gabonese Ministry of Culture, hosted the first Cultural Seasons in Libreville. This colourful program, which also saw the participation in workshops of several Gabonese artists, was aimed at showcasing South Africa’s artistic talent, strengthen people-to-people relations and open new paths for expanded trade between the two countries especially in the field of tourism.

Previously in 2013 and 2015, the DAC had taken South African artists to Gabon to exhibit their craft, fashion and furniture during Nelson Mandela Day and Heritage Day celebrations.

Gabon’s former President Omar BONGO ONDIMBA decided in 2002 to allocate 10% of the nation’s territory to be part of its 13 national parks system. This legacy has since been upheld and perpetuated and today, Gabon has adhered to the main international environmental protection instruments and is determined to develop ecotourism projects on the mainland and in the marine biosphere.

Consular agreements since the opening of diplomatic relations allow Gabonese and South African nationals to enter both countries with a visa exemption valid for 1 month.

I therefore invite you, once our dreadful and common invisible enemy, the Covid 19 pandemic is over, to discover an awesome and unique paradise called by the National Geographic Foundation and the Smithsonian Institute “the last Eden on Earth”.

Happy 60th  Independence Day

To the flourishing of relations between Gabon and South Africa.

I thank you all.