The new Gabonese government
The Prime Minister of Gabon, Jean Eyeghé Ndong, announced the composition of the new government on 28 December 2007.
47th anniversary of the Independence of Gabon
The new government now comprises 42 members compared to 50 in the previous government: the Prime Minister, 3 Deputy Prime Ministers, 2 Ministers of State, 26 Ministers and 10 Delegate Ministers.
The Ministers appointed by the Prime Minister were: General Flavien Nzengui - Nzoundou (Minister for Public Works, Infrastructures and Construction), Vincent Essone Mengue (Minister for Small and Medium sized Enterprises, the Social Economy and the Fight against Poverty), Patrice Tonda (Minister for Housing, Accommodation and Town Planning), Josué Mbadinga (Minister for Relations with the Parliament and Constitutional Institutions), and Dieudonné Mouiri Boussougou (Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation).
Then the Delegate Ministers, with the appointment of Noël Nelson Messone (Delegate Minister to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, Francophonie and Regional Integration, in charge of Francophonie and Regional Integration), and Jean Marie Kouba Souvi (Delegate Minister to the Minister for Public Health and Sanitation, in charge of the Family and the Promotion of Women, in charge of Public Sanitation).
The new, "streamlined" Gabonese government is endowed with a "mission" and will continue to implement the policies and directives of the Chief of State, outlined in the President’s social project: "My project, Action in favour of Gabon". The aim is to "improve the social situation of the Gabonese population, Gabon's economic and social development, and the prosperity of all Gabonese people".
>> See the composition of the Gabonese government as of 28 December 2007
>> Read the President’s social project, "My project, action in favour of Gabon"
On 17 August, Gabon celebrated its 47th anniversary of Independence, achieved on 17 August 1960 after belonging to the Federation of French Equatorial Africa from 1910 to 1958.
Belinga iron: the "project of the century"
For the second consecutive year, the Estuary was honoured by the system of revolving celebrations launched in 2002 at the initiative of President Omar Bongo Ondimba. The aim of the revolving celebrations is to foster development throughout the country. Each year, two provinces are the beneficiaries of financial aid from the State for the construction of infrastructure, roads, public buildings, etc, which make it possible to attract foreign investors, thereby creating jobs and enabling the diversification of the country's economy.
The President invited representatives of several neighbouring countries to join in the festivities on 17 August, which were marked by the inauguration of buildings, roads, an awards ceremony, the civil and military parade, the final of the Independence Cup, the gala dinner, fireworks display and cultural events all over Libreville.
This day was also the occasion for the Head of State to receive the "Peace Trophy". This prize was awarded to him by the International Parliament for Safety and Peace, a new society of Nations, for his personal involvement in seeking solutions to crises in the world and in Africa. This trophy entitles the President to the rank of International Grand Chancellor, and life Senator in the International Parliament for Safety and Peace. This is the highest distinction accorded by this institution. Former Presidents Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Mikhail Gorbatchev of the former Soviet Union and Pope Jean Paul II have also been awarded this prize.
Novacom Associés - September 2007
Special feature: The strengthening of cooperation between France and Gabon
President Omar Bongo Ondimba once more evoked the scope and the feasibility measures undertaken for the commissioning of the Belinga iron mine, which was described as the "project of the century".
Should Gabon abandon economic development in favour of the conservation of nature, as some have suggested?
On 14 September, the President provided clarification in terms of national and international opinion concerning the projected exploitation of the Belinga iron mine, with respect to the conservation of the environment and ecosystems, in a speech delivered at the cité de la Démocratie in Libreville.
These infrastructures are indispensable to the exploitation of the Belinga mining deposits. Their implantation and construction will obviously perturb the ecosystems of the regions concerned to a certain extent. But this vast project does not in any way call into question the policy I have instigated in terms of the environment, expressed, in particular, in the law pertaining to the national parks. For this law expressly stipulates that any loss of a part of the territory of a national park incurred through economic necessity must be offset in equal measure.
What does this mean? It means, quite simply, that what I take from here, I replace elsewhere and there is no imbalance.
But between this and preventing all development, there is a step I am not prepared to take, for while I must conserve nature, I must also ensure the development of Gabon," the President emphasised.
The leaders of the political parties of the presidential majority provided their support to the President.
The iron deposits at Belinga, in the North East of Gabon, which were discovered in 1895, are the site of one of the last great iron deposits as yet unexploited on the planet, with an iron content of 64% and reserves estimated at one billion tons.
Last year, Gabon awarded exclusive exploitation rights to China, and certain companies therefore are engaged in the construction of roads, the extraction of manganese, and oil and gas exploration in Gabon.
The first tonnes of iron should be extracted by 2011. "The construction work involved around the mine and the various infrastructures will create 26,850 jobs for Gabonese citizens. When it is in operation, the Belinga iron mine will generate 3,000 jobs directly and 10,000 indirectly", stipulated the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean Ping.?The priority in terms of employment will be reserved for Gabonese people in accordance with president Omar Bongo Ondimba?s commitment to create thousands of jobs for Gabon.
>> Read the speech the President delivered on 14 September (Pdf file)
Novacom Associés - September 2007
The French President's visit to Gabon: sustainable development and conservation of the environment in Gabon
The twin themes behind President Omar Bongo Ondimba's visit to France at the end of May were economic diversification and the strengthening of Franco-Gabonese relations. The negotiations that had been initiated concerning the concerted management of population movements and co-development, as well as Gabon's debt, were brought to a conclusion this month.
(See the videos of the Gabonese President's diplomatic visit to Paris at the end of May
Population movements and employment conditions
On 5 July, in Libreville, the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs, Jean Ping, and the French Minister for Immigration, Integration, National identity and Co-development, Brice Hortefeux, signed an agreement concerning the concerted management of population movements and co-development, in order to facilitate travel to and stays in France for Gabonese employees and students. This agreement follows the fruitful interviews recently conducted in Paris by President Omar Bongo Ondimba with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, and with the French Prime Minister and the Minister of the Economy and Finance.
This agreement will only come into force once ratified in France, by the end of the summer or the beginning of the autumn, according to Brice Hortefeux.
The document has the following provisions:
- The suppression of short stay visas for holders of service or ordinary passports and the introduction of two-year multiple-entry circulation visas, particularly for economic, professional, medical or family reasons.
- Facilitation of stays in France for Gabonese employees and students: the duration of authorization will be increased from 6 to 9 months, renewable.
- On the other hand, French people living in Gabon for more than 3 years or who have been married to a Gabonese citizen for more than 3 years may obtain a renewable resident's permit valid for 5 years (instead of 2 years).
The document also has provisions for cooperation between France and Gabon in the reduction of irregular immigration, in terms of civil status and against documentary fraud, as well as French support for development projects initiated by Gabonese citizens living in France.
In order to follow up the cooperation actions, the two governments will create a tracking committee
Repaying Gabon's debt
On 18 July, the Paris Club, whose members include the principal creditor nations in the world, agreed to the proposal for the prepayment of Gabon's debt, for an initial amount of €1.6 billion.
They accepted the principle of a buyback by Gabon of its debt at market value. Gabon had requested a discount of a third of the debt but the negotiations led to an agreement for a discount of around 15%.
After his visit to Gabon, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, took the decision to reduce Gabon's debt by 5%, or €50 million euros. This amount corresponds to the difference between the 15% cancellation agreed by the Paris Club and the 20% that Nicolas Sarkozy had decided to award Gabon.
Gabon can now invest this sum in the development of forest conservation and ecotourism. France is Gabon's principal creditor and holds approximately 58% of the Paris Club debt; the other creditors are Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
At the last meeting of the Cabinet, the Ministers wished to “pay a solemn tribute to President Omar Bongo Ondimba whose close personal involvement and solid links of friendship with French leaders, notably with President Nicolas Sarkozy, made these results and spectacular progress possible.”
Two new Ministers in the Gabonese government
The French Chief of State in turn paid a visit to his Gabonese counterpart, on 27 July. Together, they worked on the file of sustainable development and environmental conservation. They visited the forest of Mandah which covers 53,720 ha, accompanied by Jane Goodhall, the British primates specialist. This site is a world mangrove ecosystem reserve which is home to a considerable bird population and a high concentration of sea turtles.
Nicolas Sarkozy appealed to economic operators to invest in the national parks and tourism sectors: “Gabon today […] is a country of diversification which gives precedence to ecotourism and the conservation of the environment”. “The forest of Gabon alone [which is the 2nd largest rain forest in the world after the Amazon] absorbs the CO2 produced by the 3 most industrialized countries in the European Union”.
The €50 million euros deducted from Gabon's debt will therefore make it possible to “help our Gabonese friends to maintain and operate ecologically this forest which is an asset for the world” and thereby contribute to the diversification of the country's economy, Nicolas Sarkozy added.
Novacom Associés – end of July 2007
President Omar Bongo Ondimba visited Paris
Two new Ministers - Messrs Jean-François Ndongou and Michel Mboussou - took up their appointments in the Gabonese government on Wednesday, 18 July, after the departure of Mr Louis Gaston Mayila, Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs, Welfare, National Solidarity and Poverty Reduction.
The former Deputy Foreign Minister, Jean-François Ndongou, therefore replaces Louis Gaston Mayila, who resigned from his position, and takes up the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs, Welfare, National Solidarity and Poverty Reduction.
Mr Michel Mboussou also joined the government, succeeding Mr Jean-François Ndongou as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, Francophony and regional integration.
The two new Ministers will endeavour, as their predecessors did, to pursue the implementation of the objectives of the social project “My project, action for Gabon”, established by the President of the Republic, Omar Bongo Ondimba.
View the new composition of the Gabonese government at 18/07/07 (pdf)
Novacom Associés - end of July 2007-07-27
President Omar Bongo Ondimba visited Paris at the invitation of the new French President of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, just one week after his nomination.
President Bongo met with new members of the government and with investors.
Watch footage of these meetings:
Meeting with the new French President, Nicolas Sarkozy > watch video
The principal lines of cooperation related to Gabonese development and the question of visas > watch video
Negotiating Gabon's debt > watch video
Diversification of Gabon's economy and sustainable planning > watch video
Report on the President's visit to Paris > watch video
Bilan du voyage présidentiel à Paris > watch video