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Upgrading Gabon’s main access to world markets

Article - August 12, 2011
Because Gabon’s economy depends on exports of raw materials – chiefly oil, wood and minerals – Gabon’s ports are vital to the country’s development
The macro-economic analysis has shown that ports were Gabon’s real economic lungs. As proof, 90% of the country’s total trade passes through the ports. For this reason, Gabon’s port authority (OPRAG) has developed a strategic vision, in line with the President’s Emergence Plan, that could be summed up in five points: the reinforcement of the State’s role and power, the will to be aligned to the international norms, the improvement of the ports’ infrastructure, the development of the internal competencies to be more competitive, and to become a regional hub. To implement this vision they have different projects in the pipelines.

Rigobert Ikambouayat Ndéka, CEO of OPRAG, details some of the planned improvements. “On the site of Owendo, we plan to increase the quay length: we will extend our current quays up to 300 linear meters,” he says. “These quays will be equipped with container cranes and should be delivered at the beginning of 2013.

“In the meantime, one of our priority actions is to overcome the absence of modern handling equipment with the acquisition and operation, by June 2011, of two 100-ton mobile cranes. Another project is the construction of a truly modern port authority building. This new office will be equipped with an electronic documents transmission system which should significantly reduce the [current] stopover delays. In order to complete these operations, logistics zones have been created to benefit the industries.”

At Gabon’s ports, OPRAG works in partnership with Gabon Port Management, a subsidiary of Singapore’s Portek International, which was awarded the concession of port operations in 2007.

Philipe Gery, CEO of Gabon Port Management, describes the idea behind the ambitious upgrades to the Port of Owendo: “The idea is to make the port evolve from a poor condition, just reaching the demand of the Gabonese economy, to a situation where we will be way ahead of future projections, and should be fully able to meet all the demand in about two and a half years.”