Gabon’s Minister of Water and Forestry has announced that the country is working towards creating 200,000 jobs within the forestry industry sector in the next ten years.
Chinese-born Lee White made the announcement August 27, 2020 in Ogooue Lolo where he went to inaugurate an azobe transformation factory adding that the country wants to establish the timber sector as an important employment creator.
“We have the vision to twin the precious species of natural wood. Our objective is to create 200,000 jobs within ten years and multiply the forestry economy by ten in ten years”, Mr. White declared.
The minister has been on tour in Ogooue-Lolo and Ogooue Ivindo within the context of a supervisory mission of forestry and wildlife activities.
Besides inaugurating the factory, the minister held discussions with economic sector operators, especially as concerns the challenges they are facing during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In order to boost performance within the forestry sector, the Gabonese authorities have adopted a strategy aimed at accelerating the wood transformation sector, guarantee a durable and viable supply of logs, protect the high value species, realize one billion dollars in the exportation of wooden furniture and place itself among the top ten exporters of furniture in the world.
The minister said it was his hope that he would play a leading role in the realization of these objectives.
These lofty expressions concerning the local valorization of the country’s forestry products may carry a sweet-sounding message in the ears of Gabonese hoping to reap the best from their natural resources.
However, it is on record that Gabon witnessed the largest shipment of timber from the country to China May 19, 2020. Lee White, who is Chinese, was in the port town of Owendo on that day to personally supervise the shipment of 26,000 square metres of timber from Gabon to China.
At a time when conservationists have been shouting loudest against the indiscriminate destruction of African forests especially by Chinese timber exploitation companies, Gabon seems to be playing a hide-and-seek game with the country’s forestry minister serving as a pointman for Chinese timber consumers and a sentry for local environmentalists. Really confusing role.