Talking Business: Potential in agriculture as Gabon seeks to diversify from oil

Libreville, Gabon

Libreville, Gabon

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Similar to most oil-producing countries in Africa, the drop in the price of crude is having a significant impact on the central African country of Gabon. Cheikh Mbacke Ndoye, managing director of DHL Gabon, told How we made it in Africa about how the country is aiming to diversify its economy and some of the opportunities for investors.

Name one trend impacting Gabon’s business environment.

Diversification is currently the keyword in Gabon. Given the fall in the oil price, Gabonese officials are focused on developing sectors such as forestry, agro-industry and mining.

What is the greatest myth about doing business in Gabon?

The thinking that you cannot do business without bribery. You can develop compliant and wealthy companies in Gabon in an ethical way.

Identify the biggest untapped business opportunity.

Local production of livestock and agriculture. Despite its fertile arable land and tropical climate, 90% of food consumed in Gabon is imported.

Describe some of the challenges foreign investors can expect to encounter.

The main challenges are the drop in the oil price and the subsequent budgetary restrictions implemented by the government. This is affecting the entire local economy, with SMEs struggling to survive and consumer purchasing power dropping.

Name one local business person that you admire.

Mr Henri Claude Oyima, the CEO of BGFI Holding, a regional banking group based in Gabon. He has managed to grow the group’s activities across the region.

How do you see the business environment and economy change over the coming years?

Bold decisions have been taken to improve the business environment and we foresee they will be reinforced to make Gabon a more business-friendly country. This year will be difficult due to the oil price, although the continued diversification and restructuring of the economy should bear fruits in the medium term.

What is the one tourist attraction business people shouldn’t miss when visiting Gabon?

Gabon’s main tourism appeal is its biodiversity with numerous national parks, especially Pongara and La Lopé.

[box type=”note”]Meet Cheikh Mbacke Ndoye

1. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk? 7:30am

2. How do you relax? Jogging and listening to music

3. Best book you’ve ever read? The Rebel by Albert Camus

4. Top holiday destination? La Lopé Park in central Gabon

5. Favourite quote? “To err is human; to persist in committing such errors is of the devil.”[/box]