Banks loan Gabon €13.7m
Libreville - The National Wood Company of Gabon has obtained a loan of €13.7m to help build a plant to treat timber at Libreville's Owendo port, officials say.
The Development Bank of Central African States is providing €12.2m and the private Ecobank, which operates in west and central Africa, is lending the remaining €1.5m.
The equatorial African country is densely forested with prized woods, which it formerly exported as timber for processing in other countries, but President Ali Bongo
Ondimba announced in November 2010 that he was banning the export of tree trunks and planned to promote a local wood treatment industry.
The complex at Owendo will comprise three factories, one for splitting the wood, with a sawmill and a workshop for cutting and laminating wood products.
It will create almost 450 jobs overall.
The Gabonese authorities last September inaugurated a vast Special Economic Zone at Nkok, 30km from Libreville, dedicated to making wood products.
Before the export ban, wood accounted for 6% of Gabon's gross domestic product, excluding oil, and the timber industry was the main private employer in Gabon, accounting directly for 15 000 jobs and indirectly for 5 000 more.