African Business Magazine interviews Ali Bongo
African Business: After your election, you pledged to turn Gabon an Emerging Nation by 2025. Are you still on course?
President Ali Bongo Ondimba (ABO): The appeal I made was to the Gabonese people, my fellow countrymen. I appealed to each of them in their own capacities and roles to work with the government and the various departments of the administration to achieve our national goals.
As I said during my speech to the senior members of the administration on 2nd May 2012, I was very keen to meet the civil servants that are at the heart of the system that manages public life.
The administration plays the leading role in carrying out our plan, which is to make Gabon an emerging country by 2025. During the process of planning and decision-making, I can seek various opinions and surround myself with people who have different skill sets according to my vision and objectives, but it is up to the government and the administration to implement them. That is why, since I came to power, I have been keen to renew and, above all, modernise this relationship, so that it becomes more effective and relevant.
As I said to them, from now on there needs to be a clear distinction between the tasks that dictate the administrative structure. The political powers will take care of developing public policies and monitoring their implementation; and the administration will take care of their execution in partnership with the private sector and non-governmental bodies.
AB: You recently put in place a new government team. What direction have you set for the new ministers?
ABO: Each period in politics has its own requirements and its own team. The previous team, some of whom have been retained, did what was required for a period of 30 months. The new team has also undergone considerable changes. It has been reduced in size and we now prize their skills and their ability to represent the country. In that sense, it is a government with a mission.
So it is up to us to look for consistency and to rely on the complementarities that exist between ministerial departments. Today, for example, I brought the Ministries of Education, Sport and Culture together under the same roof in order to free up their complementary skills.
Also underlying these changes is a desire to mutualise our resources.
So the state mainly focuses on sovereign functions such as establishing strong institutions, the consolidation of the rule of law, the definition and steering of strategy, the security of people and property and ensuring the availability of basic social services.