New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) Located in the politically troubled central African region, Gabon has been an oasis of peace and stability that is now seeking to attract Indian investment and step up bilateral trade.
At a road show here on Saturday evening attended by a number of Indian companies keen to invest in Africa, Gabon’s Minister of State for Environment and Natural Resources Crepin Magliore Gwodog told IANS about the government’s drive to attract foreign investment.
“Never in Gabon have we had the kind of strife and disturbances that affect the wider region. In this sense, Gabon is a civil, peaceful nation, democratic and stable both politically and financially,” Gwodog said.
“We have qualified manpower, a good banking system and a GDP growth rate of over five percent per annum,” the minister said of his country, a member of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) that includes Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Republic of the Congo, and Equatorial Guinea.
“We have streamlined our ease of doing business procedures so much that it takes only 48 hours to set up a business in Gabon,” Gwodog said, pointing out that priority sectors for attracting investment in his country are in local processing and value addition to farm commodities and mineral resources.
At the roadshow here, Gabon sought to hardsell its new special economic zones (SEZ) with incentives like 10-year tax holiday and exemption from value added tax (VAT).
Though the current bilateral trade is still a little under $1 billion, India’s state-run Oil India Ltd. and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. have a presence in Gabon and are engaged in oil exploration.
Among other major Indian companies in Gabon, telecom major Airtel has taken over the Zain mobile network while Tata Chemicals has a urea fertiliser project in the African country.
Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba was one of the heads of state at the India Africa Forum Summit here last year, where he stressed the need to tackle terrorism and trans-national crimes through international cooperation.