Gabon gets €305m loan for New Owendo International Port

The west African state of Gabon has obtained a €305m credit line to refinance its port and special economic zone at Owendo, 27km south of the capital of Libreville.

The first phase of the New Owendo International Port was completed in 2017, and the second phase in June this year.

It was developed by Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ), a company set by the Republic of Gabon (38.5%), the Africa Finance Corporation (21%) and Olam International (40.5%). Olam is an agri-business transnational founded in Nigeria in 1989 and presently headquartered in Singapore. GSEZ is operating the port on a 30-year lease.

The aim of the project is to reduce Gabon’s dependence on oil revenue, which presently makes up about half of its GDP and 80% of exports. Since the first phase was completed, the zone has attracted 123 businesses from 18 countries.

The investment has been organised by the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF). An additional €40m will be leant by the EAIF over 15 years, and another €40m will come from the African Development Bank (AfDB), which also led the structuring of the deal.

The money will be used to refinance the project, allowing existing equity holders to reinvest their capital in other African infrastructure schemes.

Emilio Cattaneo, EAIF’s executive director, said in a press statement: "GSEZ Ports is a powerful example of public and private capital working in partnership to create a development that will benefit Gabon for decades to come."

Théophile Ogandaga, deputy general director of GSEZ, added: "The EAIF immediately saw the strategic economic development potential for Gabon of our new port. GSEZ Ports has benefitted from the expertise, experience and skill of EAIF and from the PIDG focus on special enterprise zones.

PIDG was set up by public and private bodies in the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Germany and Sweden to fund African infrastructure projects.

Image: The New Owendo International Port (GSEZ)

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