Located in Central Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Gabon has a small population and is endowed with abundant natural resources – factors which have helped it become one of Africa’s wealthier countries. The nation is slightly smaller than Colorado and shares borders with Cameroon, Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea. A country with significant areas of protected parkland, Gabon has a tropical climate. It is extremely rich in natural resources such as petroleum, natural gas, diamond, niobium, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore and hydropower. Gabon’s largest urban center is the capital of Libreville.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the GDP growth of Gabon in the year 2016 stood at 3.20 percent. The country’s top four exports were in the categories of agricultural raw material, ores and metals, fuels and manufactured goods. The top five export partners in the same year were United States, China, Malaysia, Netherlands and Spain. Gabon registered a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow of US$ 703.19 million in the year 2016.
As a matter of fact, Africa is opening up to investments and Gabon – one of the most politically and economically stable country in the continent, is attracting investors big time by doling out a number of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.
The Nkok SEZ, one of the most dynamic territories in West Central Africa has been formed through a partnership between Olam International Ltd. (Singapore), Gabon and Africa Finance Corporation. A lot of entrepreneurs are already running their companies from here very successfully. According to a report, nearly 80 companies, both domestic and international, are settled in Nkok SEZ, which is a major hub for diverse industries. Nkok has unlocked a host of business opportunities for entrepreneurs from across the globe.
The sectors which have seen significant investment include timber, metallurgy, recycling, civil engineering and construction, pharmaceutical and cosmetics, IT & telecomunications, hydrocarbon, finance, and tertiary services.
Nkok SEZ offers some major tax benefits and incentives to industrial investors such as zero percent tax on land properties, zero percent tax on income for the first 10 years and 10 percent for the next 5 years. In addition, it also allows for 100 percent repatriation of funds. Offering further benefits, investors are allowed 100 percent exemption from income tax, corporate tax and capital gains tax. Besides, 100 percent foreign ownership is also permitted. For cost effective operations, SEZ based industries are given electricity on subsidised rates and there is no custom duty on import of plant and machinery or spare parts for industries.
All these factors make Gabon an investor friendly country in a continent which is otherwise known for its unstable political and economic setup. In fact, Gabon aims to build on its political and social stability to become an emerging country by 2025. It is noteworthy that Gabon is the highest ranking nation in Sub-Saharan Africa as per UN’s 2014 Human Development Index.
Backed by substantial growth plans, the country aims to invest US$ 21 billion by 2026 on high quality infrastructure in the areas of transport, ICT, housing, education and health sectors, across the country. With a growth oriented leader at the helm, the future for Gabon looks extremely promising. The country is very strategically placing itself as a lucrative destination for investors who can further steer the development.
In the words of Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of the Gabonese Republic, Africa is the continent of the future – full of opportunities. It is now for the Africans to ensure that these opportunities are not missed. He also adds that the youth, who is the future, needs to be active and ambitious.