AFRICA Finance Corporation (AFC) is to invest up to $140 million in the Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ). The GSEZ was created in 2010 to accelerate Gabon’s economic diversification and development and is a joint venture vehicle between Olam International, a leading agricultural business, and the Republic of Gabon.
The venture, which has a portfolio of infrastructure projects spanning a variety of sectors, combines the expertise, networks and capital of both the public and private sectors. AFC’s investment will make a significant contribution to the development of these projects, which include: a new Mineral Terminal, a General Logistics terminal, as well as other special infrastructure projects. GSEZ also owns and operates the Nkok Special Economic Zone and the Port Gentil Special Economic zone, which is in early development.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba, commenting on the agreement in Libreville earlier this month said, ‘I am pleased to be entering into this agreement with Africa Finance Corporation. It will allow us to develop GSEZ’s existing infrastructure and implement a number of new projects. Our relationships with influential private sector institutions are crucial to the successful implementation of large scale infrastructure projects. Ultimately these projects will drive Gabon’s economic development and improve the lives of Gabonese citizens.’
Andrew Alli, President & CEO of Africa Finance Corporation said, ‘We are delighted to be able to build on our well-established partnerships with the Republic of Gabon and with Olam by making this investment, which will help to accelerate the development of these infrastructure assets and diversify the economy of Gabon.
‘GSEZ’s diverse portfolio of projects is testament to the government’s commitment to supporting infrastructure investments within its borders and the CEMAC region. Gabon has the benefit of an abundance of land as well as enviable natural resources, with long-established oil, timber and mining industries, and some of the world’s largest deposits of manganese and iron ore. There is huge potential for sustainable growth if the adequate supporting infrastructure is in place and AFC intends to help Gabon meet this potential, however we can.’
Olam International has been at the forefront in the development of the GSEZ projects in line with the Gabonese republic’s “Emergent Gabon Strategy”, which seeks to reduce the country’s reliance on crude oil and diversify into other sectors. Olam began operations in Gabon in 1999 and is now developing multiple agro-industrial and infrastructure projects in the country, with the Gabon as a joint venture partner.
Gagan Gupta, president and country head for Olam in Gabon and CEO of GSEZ said, ‘It is indeed a great pleasure to have AFC join us as a partner to invest in and grow the GSEZ franchise. This investment brings to bear our vision of a diversified and vibrant Gabonese economy, which can hopefully further contribute to and favorably impact the wider CEMAC region. AFC’s investment in the company gives additional impetus to GSEZ, through the access to AFC’s considerable financial and technical resources, which will be invaluable in identifying and executing on the vast opportunities in Gabon, and in the larger CEMAC region.’
AFC’s mission is to address Africa’s pressing infrastructure needs and build the foundations for robust economic development across the continent, all the while seeking a competitive return on investment for its shareholders. To date the Corporation has invested $3.2 bn in projects across 22 African countries and in a wide range of sectors including power, telecommunications, transport and logistics, natural resources and heavy industries.
Gabon became the 10th member of AFC in August 2015. The corporation’s other members are: Cape Verde, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. As with all members, Gabon’s membership enables AFC to receive preferred creditor status within the country, the benefits of which reduce AFC’s investment risk, enabling the Corporation to provide more competitive financing solutions.