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A voice from Uganda, "Let's prepare for the oil boom."

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  • bobutne
    http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/459/514462 It is said Uganda will receive over $400m dollars in oil revenues in the first five years of oil production. But most
    Message 1 of 16 , Aug 11, 2006
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      http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/459/514462

      It is said Uganda will receive over $400m dollars in oil revenues in
      the first five years of oil production. But most oil dependent
      countries that have been receiving more than this amount have more
      often than not experienced significant development failures and in the
      end petrol dollars have promoted corruption and instability rather than
      peace and development.

      Therefore, oil is a double-edged asset; it can be both good and bad. In
      countries such as Algeria, Angola, D R Congo, Equador, Gabon, Iran,
      Iraq, Kuwait, Sudan and Nigeria, oil revenue mismanagement has seen
      their real per capita incomes plummet.....
    • bobutne
      LIBREVILLE, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Unions in Gabon called on Monday for a six-day general strike next month to protest a national minimum wage that has been frozen
      Message 2 of 16 , Aug 15, 2006
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        LIBREVILLE, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Unions in Gabon called on Monday for a
        six-day general strike next month to protest a national minimum wage
        that has been frozen for decades in the central African oil producer.

        The glistening sea-front hotels and chic boutiques of the capital
        Libreville belie the grinding poverty affecting most Gabonese people,
        a third surviving on less than $1 a day despite the country's oil
        wealth.

        "This general strike will extend across the whole country, involving
        all sectors, and is being organised to demand an increase of the
        minimum wage," the confederation of Gabonese unions (COSYGA) said in
        a statement.

        It said the minimum wage in Gabon, which has been ruled since 1967 by
        Africa's longest serving president Omar Bongo, had remained frozen at
        44,000 CFA francs ($85) a month for several decades.

        Bongo won a presidential poll in November with 80 percent of the vote
        but the opposition, which had tried to tap into popular discontent
        over poverty and unemployment in the former French colony, said the
        election was rigged.

        The government banned demonstrations when rioting broke out after the
        results were announced and said the security forces would shoot
        without warning to break up protests. The opposition said five people
        were killed in the days following the results.

        Oil accounts for 80 percent of Gabon's exports and although public
        coffers have been benefiting from high global crude prices economists
        warn the country is overly reliant on the sector and needs to
        diversify before reserves run out.

        http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L1414999.htm
      • bobutne
        August 17 2006, Libreville - Gabon on Thursday celebrated its 46th independence anniversary with eight visiting African heads of state on the reviewing stand
        Message 3 of 16 , Aug 18, 2006
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          August 17 2006, Libreville - Gabon on Thursday celebrated its 46th
          independence anniversary with eight visiting African heads of state
          on the reviewing stand alongside host President Omar Bongo. The
          presidents of Benin, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic,
          Chad, Congo, Mali, Sao Tome and Togo looked on as Bongo, who has
          ruled Gabon since 1967, gave the starting signal for a military
          parade along Libreville's seaside boulevard, newly repaved for the
          occasion. Two brand new South African-built Mirage-F1AZs performed a
          flypast as Gabonese lined the parade route, which was festooned with
          the national colors of blue, yellow and green.

          Under a program launched in 2002 to spread infrastructure investments
          across Gabon, independence day celebrations have been held on a
          rotating basis in two of the nine provinces of the oil-rich west
          African country each year, with an annual budget of 50 billion CFA
          francs. As eight of the country's nine provinces have already
          benefitted from the programme, it is the turn this year and next of
          Estuary Province, home to the capital Libreville, to carry out the
          works. Libreville's population makes up almost half of Gabon's 1,3
          million inhabitants.

          Ahead of the festivities, critics asked for evidence of major
          infrastructure investments.The International Monetary Fund, in a
          recent report, highlighted "projects left at the planning
          stage", "deserted buildings", "unusable" infrastructure as well as
          numerous cases of "over-invoicing". Newspapers and opposition members
          also pointed out the lack of obvious investments.

          "As of today, we can't see anything," said the private newspaper Le
          Crocodile on Wednesday. "In Libreville, the head of state will only
          inaugurate the reviewing stand."

          Opposition leader Pierre Mamboundou told AFP that he supported the
          celebrations but could not see any apparent investments.

          "The 50 billion allocated each year must get projects off the
          ground," he said. "That's not the case."

          Mamboundou charged that "the occasion is in fact grabbed by regional
          leaders to over-invoice and enrich themselves".
        • bobutne
          Alcoholic elephants, naked cyclists, lethal kites and £1,000-a-day car hire: getting to grips with Gabon isn t easy, but it s worth it As an excuse for a late
          Message 4 of 16 , Aug 20, 2006
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            Alcoholic elephants, naked cyclists, lethal kites and £1,000-a-day
            car hire: getting to grips with Gabon isn't easy, but it's worth it

            As an excuse for a late train, it was certainly more imaginative than
            blaming leaves on the line. A herd of drunken elephants had wandered
            in front of the train heading towards Lopé, in the middle of the
            Gabonese jungle. Four of the elephants had been killed, and the
            engine and two carriages had been derailed. The line was completely
            blocked. The stationmaster sweated profusely in the equatorial heat
            as he explained the problem to our small group waiting on the Lopé
            station platform. "It's the iboga fruit they keep eating," he
            grumbled, apparently annoyed at the herd's failure to obey railway
            regulations. "They get intoxicated and stagger around on our lines."

            I had been in Gabon with a BBC film crew for less than a week, at the
            beginning of a journey around the equator. We were all expecting
            endless problems while traversing the warm waistband of the planet.
            After all, the equatorial zone is home not only to the greatest
            natural biodiversity, but also perhaps the greatest human suffering.

            Beyond Gabon, months of travel would take me through the Democratic
            Republic of Congo, scene of extreme violence, then across Uganda and
            Kenya to the lawless border with anarchic Somalia. Religious
            conflicts in Indonesia, fighting fishermen in the Galapagos,
            Colombia's interminable civil war and the vast Amazon all beckoned
            ahead.

            But thanks to the drunken elephants and a brush with a nasty disease,
            I nearly didn't make it out of the starting blocks.

            The trip had begun promisingly enough. French soldiers have helped
            keep Gabon relatively stable, while oil has made a few well-connected
            locals extremely rich. At one point in the 1980s, Gabon had the
            highest per-capita consumption of champagne, and the capital,
            Libreville, boasts casinos, musty hotels, busy beaches and a handful
            of handsome seafront buildings with a passing resemblance to those of
            Miami's South Beach.

            But the party is coming to an end. Supplies of black gold are
            dwindling, and Gabon's President Bongo has decided to tap tourist
            dollars by exploiting other national assets. With gorillas,
            chimpanzees, hippos splashing in the sea, pristine rainforest and
            nearly 700 species of birds, Gabon is a paradise for naturalists.

            Bongo has ruled Gabon since 1967, and Castro's death will make him
            the world's longest-serving leader. Absolute power clearly speeds
            decision-making. The president recently ordered that 11% of Gabon
            should be converted into national parks — almost overnight. It was a
            bold move: voilà! — Gabon is now being touted and promoted as
            the "Costa Rica of Africa", an unspoilt high-end destination for
            wealthy ecotourists.

            But Costa Rica has been welcoming visitors for years, and has been
            carefully building hotels and a tourism infrastructure. Gabon has a
            long way to go before it can claim to be African competition.

            It's not the basic tourist facilities that are the problem. Authentic
            travel experiences have their own charm. The main problem with Gabon —
            if my experience is anything to go by — is that visitors to the
            country risk endless bad luck.


            I was desperate to get into the fabled Gabonese rainforest and find
            some gorillas for an Attenborough moment, but events continually
            conspired against me.

            My troubles began before I even left Libreville. My phone, which had
            seen faithful service in the most demanding countries in the world,
            packed up. So did my producers. One of our cameras and our backup
            phone went haywire. Money disappeared. I had a comedy moment stuck in
            a dilapidated hotel lift while metal groaned in a way I didn't think
            possible outside Hollywood movies (how I laughed).

            After two days in Gabon, I wandered out of my beachside hotel and a
            battered Citroën suddenly turned sharply and slammed into the thick
            wall right next to me, demolishing the front of the car — and the
            wall. The driver slid out of his seat, dusted himself off with a
            dramatic flourish and calmly walked into the hotel. "I'm fine, thank
            you, there is nothing to worry about," he said.

            I gave the car a wide berth as it began to smoulder, and hailed a
            taxi. We drove 40 metres before clipping another car. My driver had
            been distracted by a completely naked man carrying a bicycle into a
            shop. A kite-flyer later managed virtually to garrotte me as I
            strolled along the beach. I hope you get the picture. Weird things
            can happen in Gabon. Or, at least, they did to me.

            I was relieved when we finally left Libreville and headed east,
            parallel with the equator, on the Transgabonais railway towards Lopé
            National Park, home to a large population of mandrills and several
            thousand western lowland gorillas. Surely my luck would improve.
            After leaving the train at Lopé, we clambered into 4WDs for a journey
            into the rainforest, but were then turfed out and abandoned in the
            jungle when we refused to pay an extra £1,000 a day. Travellers in
            Africa are never immune to corruption or outright blackmail, but we
            naively believed a car-hire firm connected to the presidential family
            would be slightly more reliable.

            Shrugging off another setback, we tried to view our resulting trek to
            the Mikongo camp, deep in the Lopé forest, as a bracing stroll.
            Researchers based at Mikongo are habituating lowland gorillas with
            the help of funding from visiting tourists. Finally, it was my chance
            to get into the jungle. We plunged into the forest, led by wiry
            tracker Donald Ndongo, and began to explore.

            Lowland gorillas can wander several miles a day, so, in the dense
            forest, the odds of a sighting are not great. I didn't even see their
            droppings. Between June and November, more than a thousand mandrills
            can congregate in the jungle, the largest non-human gatherings of
            primates anywhere. Unfortunately, we were there in April.

            Gabon clearly offers both more and less than a standard safari. More,
            in the sense that, after trekking and sweating through the
            rainforest, there is the chance of genuine and spontaneous wildlife
            discoveries. Compare that with a traditional safari in South or East
            Africa, where you watch a bored cheetah on the open savannah, while
            sitting in a 4WD with honeymooners from Texas and Bavaria.

            And Gabon offers less, in that most of the country is thick, green
            jungle, and you might only catch an arse-end glimpse of a mandrill or
            a gorilla heading in the wrong direction. In the rainforest there are
            no wildlife guarantees.

            But tracking in the jungle is endless fun. Donald was a mine of
            information on trees that bled red, and plants used for fighting
            fever, while he clucked away noisily to alert gorillas to our
            presence. Pushing through the jungle was a challenge, but when we
            finally spotted and followed putty-nosed monkeys, it made the reward
            only sweeter.

            Donald, whose father was a proud hunter ("Never a poacher," he added
            quickly), explained how life was changing since the president decided
            to target wealthy tourists. Villagers who live in and around national
            parks have suddenly been banned from hunting in the forests. "It's
            been a big shock for them," he said. "We try to explain that it's for
            the benefit of the country, but they need to eat, so they need to see
            the benefits of tourism quickly."

            Donald took us to the village of Makoghé, on the outskirts of the
            forest, where Jean Jacques, the energetic headman, has been
            struggling to hold his village together since the hunting ban. Jean
            Jacques has started organising traditional dances for paying
            foreigners and is appealing for tourists to visit. His message is
            clear: if you want us to stop hunting the wildlife, someone needs to
            provide us with an alternative means of putting food on the table. We
            paid a modest sum and thoroughly enjoyed their fourth performance.

            After watching the dancing, I wanted to head back into the rainforest
            in search of wildlife, but I started to feel a little unwell and we
            decided to aim for the capital. The returning train was derailed by
            the drunken pachyderms, and by the time the line was cleared and we
            arrived back in the capital, I was feeling spectacularly rough.

            Perhaps I've watched too many episodes of Casualty, but when I awoke
            during the night with a temperature of 40C and started vomiting
            blood, I suspected something was wrong. Diagnosed with malaria, I was
            treated with medicine derived from Vietnamese sweet wormwood, and was
            forced to halt my journey to recover.

            I felt lucky to make it out of the country alive and would rather
            boil my testicles than risk returning. But Jean Jacques wants you to
            visit.

            So go to the Costa Rica of Africa: trek, sweat and, with luck, you
            will spot some extraordinary wildlife before spending your money in
            the villages. Don't let my bad luck put you off. After all, the
            people of Makoghé need you.

            The author and broadcaster Simon Reeve presents Equator, a three-part
            journey around the world, starting on August 27 on BBC2 at 9pm

            http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2100-2318541,00.html
          • bobutne
            Simon Reeve mentions the Attenborough moment so I Googled and found the following site. Click on the box: Look here too to view/listen to the incredible
            Message 5 of 16 , Aug 22, 2006
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              Simon Reeve mentions the "Attenborough moment" so I Googled and found
              the following site. Click on the box: "Look here too" to view/listen
              to the incredible lyrebird.

              http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/showbiz/tvandsoap.html?
              in_page_id=1887&in_article_id=385372

              When I visited Mikongo in June of 2002, I experienced
              an "Attenborough moment" when the two trackers and I came upon a
              female gorilla high in the tree canopy eating leaves. When she
              discovered us below, she slid about 200 feet down the tree (like a
              fireman going down a firehouse pole) all the while screaming at the
              top of her lungs, the most blood-curling cry I have ever heard. Her
              mate, hidden nearby in the thick bush, joined in with a huge roar the
              shook the jungle floor. They scampered off together fearing that we
              were killer poachers. I'll never forget that sight and, especially,
              those sounds of fear. Gorillas and humans do not mix.




              --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "bobutne" <bobutne@...> wrote:
              >
              > Alcoholic elephants, naked cyclists, lethal kites and £1,000-a-day
              > car hire: getting to grips with Gabon isn't easy, but it's worth it
              >
              > As an excuse for a late train, it was certainly more imaginative
              than
              > blaming leaves on the line. A herd of drunken elephants had
              wandered
              > in front of the train heading towards Lopé, in the middle of the
              > Gabonese jungle. Four of the elephants had been killed, and the
              > engine and two carriages had been derailed. The line was completely
              > blocked. The stationmaster sweated profusely in the equatorial heat
              > as he explained the problem to our small group waiting on the Lopé
              > station platform. "It's the iboga fruit they keep eating," he
              > grumbled, apparently annoyed at the herd's failure to obey railway
              > regulations. "They get intoxicated and stagger around on our
              lines."
              >
              > I had been in Gabon with a BBC film crew for less than a week, at
              the
              > beginning of a journey around the equator. We were all expecting
              > endless problems while traversing the warm waistband of the planet.
              > After all, the equatorial zone is home not only to the greatest
              > natural biodiversity, but also perhaps the greatest human
              suffering.
              >
              > Beyond Gabon, months of travel would take me through the Democratic
              > Republic of Congo, scene of extreme violence, then across Uganda
              and
              > Kenya to the lawless border with anarchic Somalia. Religious
              > conflicts in Indonesia, fighting fishermen in the Galapagos,
              > Colombia's interminable civil war and the vast Amazon all beckoned
              > ahead.
              >
              > But thanks to the drunken elephants and a brush with a nasty
              disease,
              > I nearly didn't make it out of the starting blocks.
              >
              > The trip had begun promisingly enough. French soldiers have helped
              > keep Gabon relatively stable, while oil has made a few well-
              connected
              > locals extremely rich. At one point in the 1980s, Gabon had the
              > highest per-capita consumption of champagne, and the capital,
              > Libreville, boasts casinos, musty hotels, busy beaches and a
              handful
              > of handsome seafront buildings with a passing resemblance to those
              of
              > Miami's South Beach.
              >
              > But the party is coming to an end. Supplies of black gold are
              > dwindling, and Gabon's President Bongo has decided to tap tourist
              > dollars by exploiting other national assets. With gorillas,
              > chimpanzees, hippos splashing in the sea, pristine rainforest and
              > nearly 700 species of birds, Gabon is a paradise for naturalists.
              >
              > Bongo has ruled Gabon since 1967, and Castro's death will make him
              > the world's longest-serving leader. Absolute power clearly speeds
              > decision-making. The president recently ordered that 11% of Gabon
              > should be converted into national parks — almost overnight. It was
              a
              > bold move: voilà! — Gabon is now being touted and promoted as
              > the "Costa Rica of Africa", an unspoilt high-end destination for
              > wealthy ecotourists.
              >
              > But Costa Rica has been welcoming visitors for years, and has been
              > carefully building hotels and a tourism infrastructure. Gabon has a
              > long way to go before it can claim to be African competition.
              >
              > It's not the basic tourist facilities that are the problem.
              Authentic
              > travel experiences have their own charm. The main problem with
              Gabon —
              > if my experience is anything to go by — is that visitors to the
              > country risk endless bad luck.
              >
              >
              > I was desperate to get into the fabled Gabonese rainforest and find
              > some gorillas for an Attenborough moment, but events continually
              > conspired against me.
              >
              > My troubles began before I even left Libreville. My phone, which
              had
              > seen faithful service in the most demanding countries in the world,
              > packed up. So did my producers. One of our cameras and our backup
              > phone went haywire. Money disappeared. I had a comedy moment stuck
              in
              > a dilapidated hotel lift while metal groaned in a way I didn't
              think
              > possible outside Hollywood movies (how I laughed).
              >
              > After two days in Gabon, I wandered out of my beachside hotel and a
              > battered Citroën suddenly turned sharply and slammed into the thick
              > wall right next to me, demolishing the front of the car — and the
              > wall. The driver slid out of his seat, dusted himself off with a
              > dramatic flourish and calmly walked into the hotel. "I'm fine,
              thank
              > you, there is nothing to worry about," he said.
              >
              > I gave the car a wide berth as it began to smoulder, and hailed a
              > taxi. We drove 40 metres before clipping another car. My driver had
              > been distracted by a completely naked man carrying a bicycle into a
              > shop. A kite-flyer later managed virtually to garrotte me as I
              > strolled along the beach. I hope you get the picture. Weird things
              > can happen in Gabon. Or, at least, they did to me.
              >
              > I was relieved when we finally left Libreville and headed east,
              > parallel with the equator, on the Transgabonais railway towards
              Lopé
              > National Park, home to a large population of mandrills and several
              > thousand western lowland gorillas. Surely my luck would improve.
              > After leaving the train at Lopé, we clambered into 4WDs for a
              journey
              > into the rainforest, but were then turfed out and abandoned in the
              > jungle when we refused to pay an extra £1,000 a day. Travellers in
              > Africa are never immune to corruption or outright blackmail, but we
              > naively believed a car-hire firm connected to the presidential
              family
              > would be slightly more reliable.
              >
              > Shrugging off another setback, we tried to view our resulting trek
              to
              > the Mikongo camp, deep in the Lopé forest, as a bracing stroll.
              > Researchers based at Mikongo are habituating lowland gorillas with
              > the help of funding from visiting tourists. Finally, it was my
              chance
              > to get into the jungle. We plunged into the forest, led by wiry
              > tracker Donald Ndongo, and began to explore.
              >
              > Lowland gorillas can wander several miles a day, so, in the dense
              > forest, the odds of a sighting are not great. I didn't even see
              their
              > droppings. Between June and November, more than a thousand
              mandrills
              > can congregate in the jungle, the largest non-human gatherings of
              > primates anywhere. Unfortunately, we were there in April.
              >
              > Gabon clearly offers both more and less than a standard safari.
              More,
              > in the sense that, after trekking and sweating through the
              > rainforest, there is the chance of genuine and spontaneous wildlife
              > discoveries. Compare that with a traditional safari in South or
              East
              > Africa, where you watch a bored cheetah on the open savannah, while
              > sitting in a 4WD with honeymooners from Texas and Bavaria.
              >
              > And Gabon offers less, in that most of the country is thick, green
              > jungle, and you might only catch an arse-end glimpse of a mandrill
              or
              > a gorilla heading in the wrong direction. In the rainforest there
              are
              > no wildlife guarantees.
              >
              > But tracking in the jungle is endless fun. Donald was a mine of
              > information on trees that bled red, and plants used for fighting
              > fever, while he clucked away noisily to alert gorillas to our
              > presence. Pushing through the jungle was a challenge, but when we
              > finally spotted and followed putty-nosed monkeys, it made the
              reward
              > only sweeter.
              >
              > Donald, whose father was a proud hunter ("Never a poacher," he
              added
              > quickly), explained how life was changing since the president
              decided
              > to target wealthy tourists. Villagers who live in and around
              national
              > parks have suddenly been banned from hunting in the forests. "It's
              > been a big shock for them," he said. "We try to explain that it's
              for
              > the benefit of the country, but they need to eat, so they need to
              see
              > the benefits of tourism quickly."
              >
              > Donald took us to the village of Makoghé, on the outskirts of the
              > forest, where Jean Jacques, the energetic headman, has been
              > struggling to hold his village together since the hunting ban. Jean
              > Jacques has started organising traditional dances for paying
              > foreigners and is appealing for tourists to visit. His message is
              > clear: if you want us to stop hunting the wildlife, someone needs
              to
              > provide us with an alternative means of putting food on the table.
              We
              > paid a modest sum and thoroughly enjoyed their fourth performance.
              >
              > After watching the dancing, I wanted to head back into the
              rainforest
              > in search of wildlife, but I started to feel a little unwell and we
              > decided to aim for the capital. The returning train was derailed by
              > the drunken pachyderms, and by the time the line was cleared and we
              > arrived back in the capital, I was feeling spectacularly rough.
              >
              > Perhaps I've watched too many episodes of Casualty, but when I
              awoke
              > during the night with a temperature of 40C and started vomiting
              > blood, I suspected something was wrong. Diagnosed with malaria, I
              was
              > treated with medicine derived from Vietnamese sweet wormwood, and
              was
              > forced to halt my journey to recover.
              >
              > I felt lucky to make it out of the country alive and would rather
              > boil my testicles than risk returning. But Jean Jacques wants you
              to
              > visit.
              >
              > So go to the Costa Rica of Africa: trek, sweat and, with luck, you
              > will spot some extraordinary wildlife before spending your money in
              > the villages. Don't let my bad luck put you off. After all, the
              > people of Makoghé need you.
              >
              > The author and broadcaster Simon Reeve presents Equator, a three-
              part
              > journey around the world, starting on August 27 on BBC2 at 9pm
              >
              > http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2100-2318541,00.html
              >
            • bobutne
              http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-09/09/content_5069561.htm
              Message 6 of 16 , Sep 11, 2006
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              • bobutne
                and.....China signs $3 billion iron-ore deal with Gabon. http://www.mining-journal.com/Breaking_News.aspx? breaking_news_article_id=713 ... One or more US
                Message 7 of 16 , Sep 12, 2006
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                  and.....China signs $3 billion iron-ore deal with Gabon.

                  http://www.mining-journal.com/Breaking_News.aspx?
                  breaking_news_article_id=713

                  ----------------------------------------------------

                  One or more US corporations had plans to mine Gabon's iron ore back in
                  the 60's. With Omar Bongo's strong push, Gabon built a railroad to help
                  make the project feasible. Now, the Chinese pick up the booty.....
                • bobutne
                  http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/a5668aa627b4b5d2e4cae85a cd37933a.htm LIBREVILLE, 18 September (IRIN) - Patiently scraping the scales off fish at
                  Message 8 of 16 , Sep 18, 2006
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                    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/a5668aa627b4b5d2e4cae85a
                    cd37933a.htm

                    LIBREVILLE, 18 September (IRIN) - Patiently scraping the scales off
                    fish at the Pont Nomba market in Gabon's capital, 19-year-old high-
                    school graduate Etienne Biyoghe said he once dreamt of an office
                    career. But as unemployment has soared in oil-rich Gabon, now he
                    feels lucky just to have enough money to put some food on the table
                    at the end of the day.

                    "I do not feel ashamed," Biyoghe said. In a good month, the arduous
                    work can net him US $300, well above the US $85 minimum wage -
                    unchanged since 1970. It is set to go up to US $155 next month.

                    An estimated 40 percent of people are unemployed in Gabon, a tiny
                    West African country rich in oil, gold, manganese and ore. The United
                    Nations says that between 60 and 70 percent of the population live
                    below the poverty line, scraping by on less than US $1 per day.

                    The rampant poverty is set against a per capita GDP more than three-
                    times higher than the sub-Saharan average, a paradox that is not lost
                    on politicians opposed to the country's president, Omar Bongo, West
                    Africa's longest-serving head of state.

                    "The populations of the oil producing African countries are those who
                    suffer from the most deteriorated living conditions," said
                    parliamentarian Laurent Nzamba.

                    Oil production has been declining in recent years in Gabon to average
                    about 265,000 barrels per day. Oil still accounts for an estimated 50
                    percent of national revenue, and analysts say forecasted continuing
                    high oil prices should cushion the country from short-term shocks.

                    Still, some are sceptical that Gabon's economic indicators will go
                    anywhere except backward as long as the 70-year-old president is in
                    power.

                    "Our leaders live in style, parading with cars and big villas while
                    the country is left utterly helpless," said Vincent Ndomba, who works
                    at the Treasury.

                    David Cowan, senior economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit in
                    London, agrees. "Gabon has a long history of doing all the things
                    that shouldn't be done," he said.

                    Cowan said Gabon's government frittered away the country's oil wealth
                    on grandiose projects. "Instead of spending on primary healthcare, it
                    spent on hospitals and universities, without thinking about the long-
                    term costs."

                    Analysts have urged Gabon to start diversifying the economy to
                    compensate for the decline in oil output, suggesting it expand mining
                    production and improve the forestry, construction, telecommunication
                    and fishing sectors as potential additional sources of revenue.

                    But Gabonese are not optimistic. At the fish market, Salomon Kontche
                    said he would advise his children to forget about college and head
                    straight for stable manual jobs.

                    "With the economic crisis, our situation is precarious," Kontche
                    said. "It's better to find an activity that provides us with a
                    certain amount of autonomy."
                  • w Siemers
                    Maybe a little from left field, but some 40 years ago or so, there were those of us who were concerned that in Gabon there were developing two classes. The
                    Message 9 of 16 , Sep 18, 2006
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                      Maybe a little from left field, but some 40 years ago or so, there were
                      those of us who were concerned that in Gabon there were developing two
                      classes. The poverty class in the village (and cities as well) and those
                      who by virtue of education were able to secure management type or
                      teaching jobs an moved into urban areas that offered more of the finer
                      things of life electricity, etc. We were concerned that although there
                      were plenty of "common laborers" and what we viewed to be an abundant
                      supply of the educatee "evoluee'" there was no middle class or tradesman
                      group either in place or developing. We knew of a few europeans who
                      filled in those positions and did quite nicely.
                      We spent a limited amount of time trying to re-open a facility at
                      N'gomo, an abandoned mission on the river below Lambrene. Prior to 1930
                      it had been a rather large school with trades training and even the
                      operation of a kiln to make brick and a sawmill. We spent a few nights
                      in a house that had been abandoned for about 30 years and because of its
                      fine construction was still sound.
                      Alas, about all we accomplished in our work and discussions with some of
                      the powers that were in the government was to along with Henri Bucher of
                      the Paris Mission Society, to dig out some books from the turn of the
                      century (german script printing no less) and ship them off to Libreville
                      where the powers that were were concerned about constructing a climate
                      controled facility to protect those old books.
                      Our attempt never got off the ground. However, it appears to us that
                      today, that missing middle trades class is perhaps still missing in Gabon.


                      bobutne wrote:

                      >http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/a5668aa627b4b5d2e4cae85a
                      >cd37933a.htm
                      >
                      >LIBREVILLE, 18 September (IRIN) - Patiently scraping the scales off
                      >fish at the Pont Nomba market in Gabon's capital, 19-year-old high-
                      >school graduate Etienne Biyoghe said he once dreamt of an office
                      >career. But as unemployment has soared in oil-rich Gabon, now he
                      >feels lucky just to have enough money to put some food on the table
                      >a
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                    • bobutne
                      Libreville - China is investing massively across Africa, especially in oil and construction, and especially in countries like Sudan, where it backs the
                      Message 10 of 16 , Sep 29, 2006
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                        Libreville - China is investing massively across Africa, especially
                        in oil and construction, and especially in countries like Sudan,
                        where it backs the government's resistance to the deployment of
                        United Nations peacekeepers in Darfur. These investments have been
                        greeted with enthusiasm by many but in the west African state of
                        Gabon, the activities of a Chinese oil company have created uproar
                        among donors, conservationists and even within the government itself.

                        In 2002 Gabon designated a quarter of its territory as nature reserve
                        Na move designed to protect 67 000km2 of mainly pristine rainforest
                        that is home to a wealth of plants and animals. Four years on the
                        government of President Omar Bongo, who has ruled the country for
                        nearly 40 years, has run into its first major conflict of interests
                        involving one of these nature reserves.

                        State-run Sinopec, the largest refiner in energy-hungry China, has
                        been prospecting for oil in the Loango national park in southern
                        Gabon and has employed methods that critics say respect neither the
                        law nor the environment.

                        The company, which has declined all comment on the affair, was
                        ordered by Libreville this month to halt all prospecting activities
                        in the park. But the embarrassing case continued to cause upheaval in
                        a country torn between the pressure to develop and the pressure to
                        preserve its natural heritage.

                        The problem began before the summer, when teams from a US
                        environmental organisation, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS),
                        accused Sinopec of abusing its oil exploration licence in Loango.

                        Far from protecting an area lauded in travel magazines as "Africa's
                        last paradise", Sinopec was accused of dynamiting and polluting the
                        park, tearing up the forest to create roads and generally destroying
                        the habitat on which Loango's plants and animals survive.

                        In addition, WCS accused the Chinese company of acting completely
                        illegally because the environmental impact study it was obliged to
                        conduct in Loango had not been approved by the Gabonese environment
                        ministry.

                        "This study is completely phony," said one observer, who asked not to
                        be named, "and Sinopec's activities in Loango are therefore illegal."

                        In early September a government delegation visited the park and
                        confirmed that Sinopec was guilty of several of the abuses logged by
                        the WCS in its report on the company, a copy of which was obtained by
                        AFP. The affair has aroused fury and concern among Gabonese
                        conservation bodies.

                        "What is happening in Loango calls into question all the commitments
                        that Gabon has made to protect the environment," said Nicaise
                        Moulombi, head of group Croissance Saine Environment (Healthy Growth -
                        Environment).

                        "It proves that our authorities prefer the immediate gains obtained
                        from oil to the long-term gains obtained from conservation," added
                        Marc Ona Essangui from Brainforest, another non-governmental
                        organisation.

                        The scandal has also sparked anger among Gabon's international
                        donors - who include the European Union, France, the United States
                        and the World Bank, which has earmarked $10-million for Gabon's
                        nature reserves.

                        In a letter addressed to Gabon's forestry minister, Emile Doumba, the
                        donors recently complained that Sinopec's activities "pose a threat
                        to the biology and tourist potential of Gabon's parks and to the
                        credibility of the government and recommend that oil exploration
                        there be halted". The scandal has even caused tensions within the
                        government itself. "What Sinopec is doing is unacceptable," Doumba
                        said. "If we find a huge reserve under a park we're not going to
                        ignore it, that's for sure," he continued. "But I think it is better
                        to favour the long term and the development of ecotourism, which has
                        considerable potential in Gabon."

                        After lengthy discussions, the national parks council has finally
                        ordered Sinopec to halt its exploration activities and WCS reported
                        that it had begun this week to pull its workers out of Loango.

                        While they are celebrating this conservation victory,
                        environmentalists fear this conflict will be only the first of many
                        to come. An immense iron ore mining project is about to get underway
                        in Belinga, northern Gabon, and it is also being run by a Chinese
                        company.

                        "If Sinopec can get away with this in Loango, we risk seeing a whole
                        string of abuses in Belinga," one conservationist told AFP.

                        "We don't intend to stop Gabon exploiting its underground resources
                        but it has to show a good example by enforcing its own laws." - Sapa-
                        AFP http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?
                        set_id=1&click_id=86&art_id=qw1159509420126R131
                      • bobutne
                        afrol News, 13 October - Steadily dropping since its peak in 1997, Gabon s oil production is finally experiencing a slight growth, new statistics reveal. In
                        Message 11 of 16 , Oct 15, 2006
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                          afrol News, 13 October - Steadily dropping since its peak in 1997,
                          Gabon's oil production is finally experiencing a slight growth, new
                          statistics reveal. In the same period, Gabon has been reduced from
                          the third to the sixth largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa.

                          According to statistics released by the US government agency Energy
                          Information Administration (EIA), Gabon's decrease in oil production
                          has now stopped. During the first nine months of 2006, Gabon produced
                          237,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of crude oil, EIA informs. This is a
                          small increase from 2005.

                          Contrasted with Gabon's 1997 peak of 371,000 bbl/d, 2006 oil
                          production however has declined by 36 percent. "In part, the decline
                          in production is due to maturing fields and a lack of new fields
                          coming online, something that Gabon is working to change over the
                          next few years," the US agency explains. Despite these efforts, EIA
                          however foresees further "looming oil export declines."

                          The main reason for Gabon's decreased oil production is found on its
                          largest producing oil field, Shell's offshore Rabi-Kounga, which now
                          only produces around 55,000 bbl/d. This is down from its 1997 peak of
                          217,000 bbl/d. In an effort to extend the productive life of the
                          field, Shell in 2003 however began re-injecting associated natural
                          gas into the field.

                          Apart from Rabi-Kounga, Gabon in fact has been successful in
                          increasing its oil production during the last years. Given the
                          current high world market prices, Libreville authorities have managed
                          to recruit several smaller firms to bring new oil fields online in
                          Gabon.

                          Vaalco, Addax Petroleum, and Sasol are involved in the Etame offshore
                          field, with a current of approximately 18,000 bbl/d. In July this
                          year, Addax Petroleum purchased the interests of Pan-Ocean Energy in
                          Gabon for US$ 1.4 billion. The acquisition now makes Addax the
                          largest producer in Gabon, with total production of more than 100,000
                          bbl/d.

                          Further investments are also on track. Only last month, FirstAfrica
                          Oil completed initial drilling in the offshore East Orovinyare
                          oilfield. The company hopes to have production from the field online
                          by the third quarter of 2007. Initial production is expected at over
                          7,000 bbl/d. Several onshore fields are also currently being
                          explored, developed or expanded.

                          Gabon was hit hard by the declining oil production, with its highly
                          ineffective administration being used to almost unlimited revenues.
                          Despite its small population of about 1.4 million, limited social
                          spending and a very slow progress in developing infrastructure, the
                          Libreville government had accumulated a debt of around US$ 3.8
                          billion - debt payments now amounting to 40 percent of the annual
                          government budget.

                          Faced with a financial crisis, Libreville during the last two years
                          has reformed its economy, increased transparency, embraced good
                          governance and achieved new oil investments. In 2005, Gabon finally
                          experienced sustainable growth figures, with GDP increasing by 2.7
                          percent - around the same as population growth. Also inflation was
                          reduced to close to nothing, following decades of hiking prices in
                          the oil-driven economy.

                          In 2005, Gabon registered per-capita GDP of approximately US$ 5,000,
                          which is significantly higher than the sub-Saharan African average of
                          US$ 1,500. However, analysts estimate that 60–70 percent of Gabonese
                          live below the poverty line despite forty years of large oil exports.

                          http://www.afrol.com/articles/21928
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