Gabon wants to reduce exports of raw wood and increase the production of finished and semi-finished products for export. Through this new dynamic, the Gabonese authorities hope to diversify the country's economy, increase state revenues and create more jobs for young people within the next five years.
A “third transformation” industry. It is Gabon’s current ambition in the management of its wood. To meet this challenge, the country will have to increase the production capacity of the forest industry, which will lead to the creation of approximately 70,000 jobs within 5 years. It is the essence of the message contained in the statement made by the Gabonese Minister of Water, Forests, Sea and Environment, Lee White on June 15, 2020. It was during a guided visit to the Nkok Special Economic Zone (ZERP), located 27 km from Libreville, the capital of Gabon. “The Gabonese forest will thus contribute to get the country out of the current economic crisis linked to the coronavirus. This is by building new special economic zones,” says Lee White.
Successfully making the transition to a “third transformation” industry will enable Gabon to diversify its economy, increase government revenue, and create more jobs for young people.
According to the Gabonese Minister of Water, Forests, Sea and Environment, several mechanisms will be put in place to develop the “third transformation” industry in Gabon. These include a reduction in exports of planks and an increase in the quantity of furniture, finished products and semi-finished products exported. Gabon will also need natural resources. A forest plantation project is underway in the country. Among other things, it will increase the contribution of the forestry sector to GDP over the next five years.
About 200,000 hectares of woodland by 2025
In January 2020, the Gabonese government announced that it would plant 200,000 hectares of woodland in Gabon by 2025. “We want to increase the contribution of forests to GDP tenfold. Hence the project to plant forests with fast-growing woods over the next five years,” said Lee White, Gabon’s Minister of Water, Forests, Sea and Environment.
The forest plantation project will create at least 15,000 to 20,000 jobs in the country and increase the country’s wood production in m³ 5-fold. Planted wood will be wood sold cheaper on the international market. It will also be used to enhance the value of Gabon’s natural forests and precious woods, and to generate significant revenues. According to Lee White, the objective of his ministerial department is to increase its economy to 3,000 billion CFA francs (more than 4.57 billion euros) in 2025, compared to 500 billion CFA francs (more than 762 million euros) in 2019 and 300 billion CFA francs (more than 457 million euros) in 2018. Currently, the contribution of the Gabonese Ministry of Water, Forests, Sea and Environment represents about 5% of Gabon’s GDP.