The natural wealth of Gabon is not limited to oil and gas, and the country is turning to mining to help diversify away from its reliance on hydrocarbons. g
The African Development Bank estimated that in 2012 the mining sector contributed 6.3% of GDP and 6% of exports, though estimates from the Ministry of Economy and Planning put it much lower, at under 2% of GDP. Either way, the sector has the potential to be a major economic driver, and the government hopes to quadruple mining’s contribution to GDP by 2025 under the Industrial Gabon development plan. In line with the government’s industrialisation strategy, local processing requirements are gradually being imposed to increase the sector’s added value and boost non-hydrocarbons activity, although infrastructure and personnel shortages will be an obstacle to development in the medium term.
Today, industrial activity is limited to agro-industry, beverages, construction materials and some timber, petroleum and mineral processing, but the state has outlined a plan to establish several industrial clusters by 2025 and double the sector’s contribution to GDP.
Industry was identified as one of three economic development pillars under the Emerging Gabon strategy launched in 2009. Under the Industrial Gabon plan, the state is working to encourage investment in downstream processing for all natural resource operations. Local processing requirements are gradually being introduced, starting with the 2010 ban on raw timber exports, which is helping to increase export value and reduce Gabon’s reliance on hydrocarbons. While the transition has not always been smooth, the economy stands to benefit significantly in the medium term from the uptick in value-added activity.
This chapter contains interviews with Régis Immongault, Minister of Mines, Industry and Tourism; and Pietro Amico, General Representative, Eramet Gabon.