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Red China says, "Gabon is oasis of peace and stability in central Africa"

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  • bobutne
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-09/09/content_5069561.htm
    Message 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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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