Gabon’s SME sector under progressive reform - CNBC Africa

Gabon’s SME sector under progressive reform

Western Africa

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A roadside food stall in Moyen-Ogooue, Gabon. PHOTO: Getty Images

“What we’ve been doing with the Gabonese government is working on improving the competitiveness of the economy, and how to help develop the private sector. We’re lending them 18 million dollars to set up a functional one-stop shop, which will help simplify how to create companies,” Zouera Youssoufou, resident representative from the World Bank in Gabon, told CNBC Africa.

“[The loan] will also provide all kinds of services to Small to Medium Enterprises to have them develop their business plans together, and obtaining loans. We’ll also have a women’s business centre inside this one-stop shop that will specifically cater to women and youth to really help include [them] in the private sector.”

(READ MORE: BGD launches toolkit for Gabonese SMEs)

Youssoufou added that the 18 million dollar loan is a five-year project, and is expected to be substantially demanding in terms of combining the various administrations necessary for Gabonese SMEs to develop. 

Bringing together what used to be the Centre for Development of Enterprises, and a number of agencies that were originally set up to promote Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs), will be additional tasks.

“The idea is to have all the services that SMEs need to be created and then to be accompanied as they develop in one area with one management,” Youssoufou explained.

“It’s the process which requires all kinds of reforms and simplification of procedures, the idea being that we want to bring down the time it takes to create a company from more than 100 days that it takes now, to something closer to 48 hours that even the president has been advocating for.”

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Two years ago, the World Bank signed one of two technical assistance agreements with Gabon, in line with Gabon’s development aims in its 2025 vision, and also develop the West African country into a competitive emerging market.

(WATCH VIDEO: Business opportunities in Gabon)

“What happened with the first service agreement that we signed is all the different components have been delivered, and we just signed phase two last week, where basically we’re continuing the work on public financial management,” said Youssoufou.

“If you think about how to improve good governance on the government side, it is really about how public money is managed. The government asked us to help them take a look into how they’re doing their public financial management, [and] we did that as part of the first service agreement. Now we’re extending it into the 10 other ministries that we hadn’t touched before.”

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