March / April 2020, Issue 2 | Panels & Furniture Asia 38 | MATERIALS GABON: THE LAND FULL OF OPPORTUNITIES The entrance of the Gabon Special Economic Zone Gabon is a picturesque country with rich natural resources in West Central Africa. A privileged geographical location on the edge of the Congo Basin and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, it shares the Northern Boundary with Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea as well as the Eastern and Southern boundary with Republic of Congo. O n August 17, 1960Gabon declared itself an independent nation following centuries of foreign intrusion and colonial conflicts. Since independence from French rule, Gabon has developed a relatively stable political and social environment. Fast-forward to the present day, and Gabon is emerging as something of a regional flagbearer for foreign investment. With the continent increasingly opening up to international enterprise, the Central African nation is proving itself as an enticing place to do business. This is backed up by figures of inward FDI, which show that foreign direct investment in 2017 neared $1.5 billion, up significantly from the $1.24 billion seen in 2016 and $990 million a year earlier. With astonishing resources: Oil, Manganese (second largest producer in the world for high grade), tropical forest with more than 400 identified species and some major infrastructures, Gabon is the new face of the progressive and prosperous Africa. With a strategic location at the heart of Africa, Gabon offers an ideal gateway for entry to a regional market of 250million consumers. This is why several multinationals and visionary SMEs have been attracted by its great assets and have decided to establish their business here. GABON FOREST … HOME OF OKOUMÉ Boasting the second highest forestry potential in Africa, Gabon's forests cover 22.8 million hectares, i.e. 88 per cent of the country’s land surface. The tropical forest offers enormous possibilities with a logging potential of 18 million hectares with more than 400 species including Okoumé, Okan, Padouk, Tali, Kevazingo. Until 2010 i.e. before ban on export of raw logs, Gabon was the largest exporter of raw wood in the region, and its sales represent 20 per cent of Africa’s raw wood exports. Gabon’s reserves o f ha r vest ab l e t imbe r i nc l udes 130 million m 3 of Okoumé, 25-35 million m 3 of Ozigo, 20-30 million m 3 of Ilomba, 15-25 million m 3 of Azobé and 10-20 million m 3 of Padouk. Other woods are Dibetou (Tigerwood or African Walnut), Movingui, Kevazingo and Zingana (Zebrano or Zebrawood).