Gabon - Country Commercial Guide
Wood Products
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In 2009, the government prohibited the export of untreated wood and raw timber in support of local production of wood products to encourage a wood-based manufacturing sector.  Local value-add production transforms 69 percent of Gabonese wood, of which 31 percent is shipped to the international market.  Gabon is the largest wood processor in the CEMAC zone, ahead of its neighbor Cameroon, according to a BEAC report on the Composite Commodity Price Index (ICPPB) in the 2nd quarter of 2022 provided by the Ecofin Agency.

Opportunities exist for timber processing companies.  Since the first annual Gabon Wood Show in 2018, Gabon has promoted an ambitious vision to expand exports in the forest-wood products sector.  According to the latest survey report on the impact of the wood sector on the Gabonese economy between 2018-2022 (done by E&Y and Mays Mouissi Consulting), exports of processed wood increased by 53 percent between 2018 and 2022, going from 898,432 m3 to 1,378,692 m3.

As a result of the increase in exports of processed wood, the number of Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) containers exported by the wood processing plants (UTB) at the Nkok Special Economic Zone (SEZ) increased from 6,746 in 2018 to 17,541 in 2022, an increase of 160 percent over the period.  For sawn timber, Gabon was the fourth largest producer in Africa and the 26th worldwide for all types of sawn wood combined. 

Special Economic Zones

Gabon’s Nkok SEZ, with its location just outside Libreville, is already producing steel rebar, furniture, veneer, plywood, and other wood products.  The 1,350-hectare SEZ provides considerable tax and financial incentives for local and foreign investors to start business there, while also housing dedicated electricity and water services to the area and preferred access to the deep-sea port of Owendo, all of which enhance industrial competitiveness and build a business-friendly ecosystem to attract investment.  With the success of the Nkok SEZ, Gabon launched two new SEZs in Inkolo (June 2021) and Mpassa-Lebombi (April 2022), with a fourth planned near Port-Gentil in the future. 

The Owendo International Port, a $300 million multipurpose terminal, opened in October 2017.  The terminal is designed to receive container vessels and general and bulk cargo ships.  The Owendo container terminal meets international port standards based on its wharf length, draught, and equipment (two ship-to-shore gantry cranes and four container gantry cranes).  Vessels reaching 6,000 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) can be handled with high levels of efficiency.  In 2022, the Bolloré Group sold their transport and logistics activities in Africa to the MSC Group, including management of the port.

Table: Wood Production





Total Local Production

693.201 cubic meters of wood 

700.385 cubic meters of wood 

1 684 292 million cubic meters of wood 

1.378 692 million cubic meters of wood