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 of 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.

 

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Timber transformation unit at Nkok SEZ

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.
Hardwood Species like Sapelli, Sipo, Acajou, Andoung, Gheombi from Gabon are Pinkish Red to Brownish in colour and are similar to Genuine Mahogany (Swieteniamacrophylla) in terms of colour, appearance and density.

 

These timber species could very well serve as an alternative for Mahogany as it is listed in CITES Appendix II. These species are suited for luxury and high end furniture and joinery. This is the reason for their high demand in Europe and USA due to its colour perception. They are exported in high volume to China, Vietnam and Malaysia, as they are the biggest manufacturers and exporters of furniture to developed countries.

 

Wenge is the premier dark hardwood from the forests of Gabon and suitable for contemporary interiors as it blends quite well with glass and stainless steel.

 

Due to its dark colour, it is well suited for straight/clean line furniture and is quite popular in Europe.

 

Iroko, Beli, Tali and Okan species can be considered as alternative species to provide teak like finish. These species are quite popular in Asia and Middle East for furniture and joinery. Tali and Okan are extensively used in furniture manufacturing in Vietnam, mainly for export and has helped Vietnam to become second largest exporter of furniture after China. Furniture made out of these species is very popular in Asian and American markets.

Light colour tropical wood species from Gabon includes Izombe, Movingui and Bilinga. These species have appearance similar to Merbau / Kwila and are suitable for furniture as well as joinery and interiors.

Kevazingo (Guibourtia Spp.) is the most expensive and coveted wood species from the forests of Gabon.

 

Trunk diameter of 150 cm is quite common for Kevazingo. Live-edge table tops made from it is in high demand in China because of its natural beauty and its coherence with customs and beliefs of Chinese community world over.

 

Padouck is a dark coloured redwood found in Gabon; quite similar to Rosewood and suitable for outdoor furniture as well as joinery

 

Outdoor flooring, decking and garden furniture made out of it is exported to European markets. It is resistant to damage from weather elements. Padouck is also very popular in southern part of India due to its red colour and high density. Door and door frames made from Padouck are very popular in the South Indian markets.

 

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.

 

OKOUMÉ

OKOUMÉ

Gabon supplies 90% of the world’s Okoumé, known in Europe and America for sawn timber used for interior joinery. Its demand is also picking up in Asia.

 

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.
Aucoumeaklaineana (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.

 

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

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)SA … offering Sawn Okoumé timber

 

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.

With more than fifty timber transformation units at Nkok SEZ, GSEZ SA is now offering Sawn Okoumé timber for various markets across Gulf and Asian counties. Okoumé is a perfect wood specie for the air dried & kiln dried international Lumber Market. The end user markets are the door & window frame makers. Also usable for interior Furniture, Okoumé has the advantage to be easy to process, polish and varnish even with different coloration. If you saw in quarter cut or flat, its regular structure allows different woodworking with a high quality finishing level. Mainly available in 50 mm of thickness, Okoumé demands are strongly increasing in Vietnam, Philippine and China. The European demand is steady and growing. With the transformation capacity available at Nkok SEZ, GSEZ SA is capable to offer Sawn Okoumé in excess of 10,000 cbm/month. They are available in stock all year in thicknesses from 27 to 80 mm, widths of 100 mm or more, and lengths of 2150 mm or more (or 2450mm for moulding). Part of the product range is FSC certified, and the other part of the range has guarantees of legality in accordance with international practices.

 

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Libreville, Gabon

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Saw Mill

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