As a guest speaker at the Atlantic Council, President Ali Bongo of Gabon took the opportunity to address the Council about his social project, ‘Gabon emergent’, promoting growth in Gabon.
As the Atlantic Council and, in particular, the Michael S. Ansari Africa Centre, a body which aims to transform the approach of European and American policy towards Africa, have expressed great interest in the development model initiated by Gabon’s President.
Mr Bongo, who was on a visit to Washington to meet with the UN Security Council with which his country is currently a member state, said in a speech at the Michael S. Ansari Africa Centre that his country ‘has the potential to pilot real innovation and to re-define how governments and the private sector collaborate to create sustainable growth.’
The project that he implemented after taking office in 2009 has attracted more than four billion dollars of FDI in 2010 following the signature of contracts with U.S, Asian and European companies. The project aims at green sustainability and the Gabonese ecosystem including the timber industry and agriculture, the industrial initiative of the local development of raw materials, the export of products with high added value and diversification of the national economy; and the promotion of human resource development with the goal of becoming a regional benchmark in financial services, new information technology, jobs in the green economy, higher education and health.
As Gabon has for long been dependent on exports of raw materials, Bongo expressed that the country is now determined to diversify its economy and become an emerging country by 2025 through though its new sustainable development programme.
Ali Bongo stated in his speech: ‘In Gabon we were able to attract more than five billion dollars in new investments from foreign enterprises – in manufacturing and infrastructure, rather than in the traditional oil and gas sectors which We must also ensure that illicit trade, be it of diamonds, timber or fish extracted illegally, or criminal trafficking of drugs or ivory, are fought with determination. I believe that there is a clear correlation between growth in these illegal activities and political instability.’
He added: ‘The resources over which we fight in the future will no longer be the oil that fuels our cars, or the diamonds that adorn the fingers of millions. The wars of the future will be fought over basic things like water, food, and land. Peace, Security and the Environment are inter-dependent. We cannot work for lasting peace if we don’t confront today, the causes that we know will lead to wars in the future.’
The President was confident that Gabon Emergent could play a key role as a model for development. He said:
‘I firmly believe that these ideas are the bedrock of a development model for the Third Millennium – a model that the entire world recognises as necessary, but is struggling to conceive and implement.’