16 May 2012

Gabon: Official Visit of the President of the Gabonese Republic to the United Kingdom

press release

London, 16th of March 2012 — The President of the Gabonese Republic, Ali Bongo Ondimba, will visit the United Kingdom from May 17 to 19.

The visit, his third since taking office, will focus on strengthening the bilateral relationship, promoting Gabon as a destination for foreign investment and sharing Gabon's strategy for achieving environmentally-centred, broad-based growth, in the lead-up to the Rio+20 conference.

As a committed environmentalist, President Ali Bongo Ondimba, has taken a lead role within Africa, and on the global stage, to advocate for collective action to address the global climate change threat. He has also been at the forefront of efforts within Africa to integrate sustainable development into its economic growth plans.

After decades of dependence on oil and gas, Gabon is determined to diversify its economy and achieve emerging market status by 2025. Since his election in September 2009, President Ali Bongo Ondimba has driven a new development strategy for Gabon - 'Gabon Emergent' - an ambitious program of reforms to diversify the economy and develop competitive manufacturing and service sector industries, while conserving Gabon's pristine environment.

President Ali Bongo has also focused his energy on developing and strengthening economic partnerships with a range of countries: state visits to South Korea and Switzerland (October 2010); state visit to Singapore (November 2010); state visit to Italy (May 2011); official visit to the United States (June 2011); state visit to Australia (March 2012). The state visit to Singapore in November 2010 led to an agreement with Olam - a leading processor of agricultural products and food ingredients - to develop agribusiness in Gabon. During his visit to the US in June 2011, he discussed strengthening economic ties with President Obama and signed an agreement with Harvard University for an exchange program and a research and training program with the University of Oregon.

President Ali Bongo Ondimba will meet with his counterpart, Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss the development of the Gabon-UK relationship, peace and security issues and shared interests in promoting green growth and sustainable development globally.

While in London, President Ali Bongo Ondimba will speak at Chatham House, one of the world's leading think-tanks on international affairs, and deliver the keynote address at the London Business School's Africa Day conference on 19 May.

The Emerging Gabon policy

Gabon has entered an era of change spurred by ambitious political reforms introduced by President Ali Bongo Ondimba. For a long time dependent on the export of raw materials, Gabon is now determined to diversify its economy. The reform of environmental management in Gabon will enable the extraction and processing of raw materials in a rational, sustainable and environmentally-friendly way.

Gabon is hoping to become an emerging country by 2025 through a sustainable development strategy called Emerging Gabon. This strategy is based on three pillars:

  • Green Gabon, which aims to sustainably develop the incredible Gabonese ecosystem - 22 million hectares of forest, 1 million hectares of arable land, 13 national parks and 800 kilometres of coastline - through forestry, agriculture and ecotourism;
  • Industrial Gabon, which aims to promote the local processing of raw materials, exports of high value-added products and the diversification of the national economy;
  • Service-Orientated Gabon, which aims to develop Gabonese human resources in order to become a regional leader in financial services, new information technologies and the green economy, higher education and health sectors.

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