Gabon is a picturesque and natural resources rich country in West Central Africa. A privileged geographical location on the edge of the Congo Basin and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, it shares the Northern Boundary with Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea and the Eastern and Southern boundary with Republic of Congo. Gabon is one of the Africa’s most political and social stable countries since the independence in 1960, with a growth rate of 5.5% (2013) and a GDP of USD 30.6 billion in 2013 or per capita GDP of USD 19,200. Gabon has the best country risk assessment in the Central African sub-region with a B rating and is ranked 2nd in the Central Africa for good governance in the 2014 Mo Ibrahim Foundation Index. The country is ranked 2nd as per UNDP’s 2014 Human Development Index in Sub-Saharan Africa.
With astonishing resources: Oil, Manganese (2nd largest producer in the world for high grade), tropical forest with more than 400 identified species and some major infrastructures, Gabon is the new face of the progressive and prosperous Africa. With a strategic location at the heart of Africa, Gabon offers an ideal gateway for entry to a regional market of 250 million consumers. This is why several multinationals and visionary SME have been attracted by its great assets and have decided to establish their business here.
GABON FOREST … home of Okoumé
Forestry has been one of the driving sectors of the economy. Boasting the second highest forestry potential in Africa, Gabon’s forests covers 22.8 million hectares, i.e. 88% of the country’s land surface. The tropical forest offers enormous possibilities with a logging potential of 12.5 million hectares with more than 400 species including Okoumé, Okan, Padouk, Tali, Kevazingo. Until 2010 i.e. before ban on export of raw logs, Gabon was the largest exporter of raw wood in the region, and its sales represent 20% of Africa’s raw wood exports. Gabon’s reserves of exploitable timber includes 130 million cubic meters of Okoumé, 25-35 million cubic meters of Ozigo, 20-30 million cubic meters of Ilomba, 15-25 million cubic meters of Azobé and 10-20 million cubic meters of Padouk. Other woods are Dibetou (Tigerwood or African Walnut), Movingui (Nigerian Satinwood), Kevazingo, Ebony and Zingana (Zebrano or Zebrawood).
Gabonese Republic is aiming to turn Gabon into a world leader in certified tropical timber production through an industrial strategy aimed at sustainably managing timber stocks and by promoting secondary and tertiary processing.
Over the past ten years, Gabon has gone through a profound process of reform affecting the forest and environment. A new forest law has come into force that emphasizes Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) as the overall approach in the forestry. Forestry is, and will remain, one of the pillars of Gabon’s economic and social development. The private sector has become a major driver of industrial forest development and the export of forest products. Gabon has a low deforestation rate, forests rich in valuable timber species and among the best prospects for a healthy and sustainable forest industry. The timber industry is already the largest private sector employer, employing 28% of the working population, and represents an extremely significant growth potential.
Commercial forest harvesting in Gabon began as early as 1892, but only in 1913 was Okoumé, Gabon’s most valuable wood, introduced to the international market. Gabon supplies 90% of the world’s Okoumé, known worldwide for the production of plywood.
Gabon supplies 90% of the world’s Okoumé, known in Europe and America for the production of veneer &plywood. Its demand is also picking up in Asia especially in India and China.
|Common Name||Okoumé, Gabon|
|Scientific Name||Aucoumea klaineana|
|Distribution||Central Africa (primarily Gabon)|
|Tree Size||30-40 m tall, 0.6 -1.8 m trunk diameter|
|Sapwood||Demarcated, greyish white, narrow|
|Heartwood||• Colour: Salmon-pink to dark-pink, darkening on exposure
• Grain: Slightly interlocked to frequently interlocked
• Texture: Fine to medium
• Silver figure: Fine (barely visible)
|Technical Properties||• Green weight (kg/m3): 550 – 650 kg/m3
• Specific gravity at 12% M.C. (kg/m3) MV12: (light) 440
• Volumetric swelling for 1% MC variation V%: (small) 0.33
• Total tangential swelling T%: 7.5
• Total radial swelling R%: 4.8
• Crushing strength (N/mm2) C12: 36
• Static bending strength (N/mm2) F12: 87
• Modulus of elasticity (N/mm2) E12: 7800
|Possible end-uses||Plywood, Furniture components, Mouldings, Boxes and crates, Interior joinery, Rotary Peeled Veneer|
Aucoumea klaineana (Angouma, Gaboon, or Okoumé) is a tree in the family Burseraceae, found in equatorial West Africa in Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, and Rio Muni. Okoumé is a medium-sized hardwood tree growing to 30-40 m tall with a trunk diameter in the range of 1 to 2.5 meters. Its attractive appearance means that it is often used decoratively as the top surface veneer in panelling and furniture or, in solid form in luxury items such as boxes for cigars or other high value items (e.g. audio equipment). Physical and mechanical properties: Widely recognised as one the world’s best materials for rotary cut veneers, Okoumé timber is easy to work and is as suitable for the manufacturing of furniture as for interior joinery. Moreover, it is a species of a very even colour, good bonding performances and good compatibility with finished products.
Advantages of Okoumé
- Uniform and Single Species
- Uniform Colour and Density
- Easy Workability – No Coarse Grains
- Durable and resistant to dry wood borers so does not require any preservative treatment against dry wood borer attack.
- Suitable for Staining and Polishing without much variations across the grain and so better finish.
- Reliable and Sustainable Production with Assured Availability in Quality & Quantity.
- Sawn Timber without Much Timber Defects and therefore Less Wastage in end usage.
GABON SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE (GSEZ) … a competitive business environment
In last decade, African countries have promoted the idea of processing of natural resources within their countries itself so as to generate employment and give boost to their economy. With the same ideology, Gabonese Republic also banned exports of raw timber in 2010. Subsequently,Gabonese Republic has embarked on a journey to provide amenable ecosystem and infrastructure to facilitate the secondary and tertiary processing of timber and other natural resources within Gabon.
Africa is opening up to investments and Gabon, one of the most politically and economically stable country in the continent, has clearly taken the lead in attracting investors by doling out number of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives. Gabon Special Economic Zone is fast emerging as the West Central Africa’s manufacturing hub and entrepreneurs from across the globe are welcome to benefit from the business opportunities unlocked by Nkok SEZ.
Witnessing a favourable investment climate, Olam International Limited in partnership with the Gabonese Republic decided to develop Special Economic Zone in 2010. The Special Economic Zone, spread over 1126 ha at Nkok (20 Km from the capital city of Libreville), is the outcome of a shared vision of Gabonese Republic and Olam to effectively master the transition toward industrialization of Gabon. It is one of the largest Industrial Park in Sub-Saharan Africa aimed to promote sustainable production and processing of timber and various other resources in the country.
Incentives to Investors
Investors in GSEZ enjoys following fiscal incentives on their industrial investments:
• No Income tax for first 10 years and a preferential rate of 10% over
the next 5 years • No Customs Duty on the import of equipment and machinery for the industry • No VAT • No Property Tax • 100 % foreign ownership permitted • 100 % exemption from capital gains tax
• Other relaxations and waivers
1) Subsidised Electricity / Power Tariff 2) Relaxed Labour laws &
flexibility in employing expatriates 3) Reduced Export Duty for products manufactured in SEZ 4) 100% repatriation of profits 5) Up to 25% DTA sales permitted without any tax implications
Single Window Clearance… a differentiator
GSEZ facilitates to obtain all necessary regulatory and statutory clearances required for setting up an industry in the SEZ from various government departments by way of Single Window Clearance Facility; simplifying the process in granting speedy approvals to all units. To ensure that the investors do not have to run from one office to another, all concerned 17 departments / agencies from which approvals are required are housed in a special building within the SEZ.
Gabon SEZ … as on today
SEZ at Nkok currently has investors from 17 nationalities and foreign direct investment expected is more than USD$ 1.7 billion. Out of the total 96 investors in the SEZ, 30 are from India. The industries making SEZ as base are mainly industries into wood transformation (saw mill, veneer and plywood), ferro-alloys, construction materials, pharmaceutical, food processing, telecom equipment, waste & metal recycling and warehousing etc. As on date, 23 companies are already under production and another 32 companies are in different stages of construction. It is expected that more than 50 companies will be under commercial production by Mid-2017.
Greenply has started the construction of a veneer unit spread over 10 Ha. The Plant is likely to be operational by mid-2017. This plant will cater to both European and Indian markets.
Generally, a SEZ requires 8 or more years to be operational. However, Nkok SEZ has positioned itself as Manufacturing Hub of West Central Africa within a short span of six year with many industrial units producing and processing high value products.
In April 2016, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) made an investment of USD 140 million in Gabon Special Economic Zone SA (GSEZ). Established in 2007, AFC is a pan-African multilateral financial institution aimed at being a catalyst for private sector infrastructure investment in Africa and funding power, industry, transportation and telecoms infrastructure. This investment by AFC is the independent validation of GSEZ business model, its future prospects and the ability of its team to execute and deliver.