Panels & Furniture Asia Jul/Aug 2020

July / August 2020, Issue 4 | Panels & Furniture Asia MATERIALS | 51 Since 2017, India’s Greenply has already been operating its unit in Nkok SEZ. Century Plyboard from India also started their construction of its veneer unit in 2019 and their plant is likely to be operational later this year. This plant will cater to both European and Asian markets. natural forests, it makes immense sense to invest in a manufacturing unit in a country that is rich in timber resources. Gabon is the best option available today. Another aspect is use of wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and with proper traceability and legal certificates for furniture manufacturing. Most of the big buying houses in the United States and Europe have made a resolution to ensure that by 2020, at least 30% of furniture sourced are made with FSC-certified wood. FSC-certified wood in this quantity has limited availability but it is abundantly available in Gabon. To further ensure legality and traceability of logs entering Nkok SEZ, GSEZ SA created TRACER-Nkok, an agency independently run by two reputed entities, namely FRM and Brainforest. TRACER- Nkok ensures complete traceability of logs from their entry into the SEZ to delivery to the processing unit. TRACER- Nkok issues a due diligence certificate to log suppliers that authorises them to supply logs to Nkok SEZ. TRACER- Nkok aims to promote the progressive certification of the wood sector in Gabon. NKOK SEZ TODAY Nkok SEZ currently has 166 investors from17 nations, and the expected foreign direct investment exceeds US$1.7 billion. Out of the 166 investors, 70 are from China, India and South East Asia. The industries making the SEZ their base are mainly in wood transformation (eg, sawmill, veneer and plywood); ferro-alloys; construction materials; pharmaceutical; food processing; telecom equipment; waste and metal recycling; and warehousing, among others. Currently, 77 companies are already under production and another 30 companies are in different stages of construction. It is expected that more than 100 companies will be under commercial production by mid 2021. In April 2016, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) made an investment of US$140 million in GSEZ SA. Established in 2007, AFC is a pan-African multilateral financial institution aimed at being a catalyst for private sector infrastructure investment in Africa and in funding power, industry, transportation and telecoms infrastructure. This investment by AFC is the independent validation of GSEZ’s business model, its future prospects and the ability of its team to execute and deliver. P