The Government of Gabon shares our passion for sustainable infrastructure that has a transformational impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. In 2010, Bechtel was invited to study the country’s infrastructure priorities and long-term development vision, to deliver a strong, successful and sustainable future for the people of Gabon. In response, we brought together a team of senior experts - selected from some of the world’s most celebrated transport, energy, social and urban projects including Crossrail, the Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone, Jubail Industrial City; and Angola LNG – to help turn Le Gabon Emergent into a reality.
A 10-year partnership supporting Gabon’s roadmap to prosperity
Implementing a strategic vision for Gabon
Gabon’s national infrastructure master plan (NIMP) involved establishing the country’s first public-works agency l’Agence Nationale des Grands Travaux d’Infrastructures (ANGTI) to deliver a pipeline of priority infrastructure projects, while raising construction standards of safety, quality, and project implementation to serve the nation's approximately 2.1 million people. Key to the long-term success of this plan was enhancing the Gabonese skill base to manage the projects locally for the long term. Over the ten-year period the proportion of ANGTI staff working across health, education, transport and energy projects rose from just over 55% to more than 90%.
‘We are proud to have supported the implementation of Gabon’s vision for economic growth. A key focus was upskilling local workers to manage major infrastructure projects during our 10-year partnership and beyond, when the country needs it and in a sustainable way that protects resources and biodiversity.’ - Bogdan Sgarcitu, Bechtel’s project director in Gabon (2016 – 2020)
There have been many success stories throughout the ten-year partnership, particularly in social infrastructure. Since 2010, hundreds of thousands more people in Gabon now have access to better healthcare, schools and education facilities, affordable energy and digital connectivity. In 2018, the use of internet in businesses, in schools and in the home had increased since 2010 from 13 to 62%.
Landmark projects include the sports stadiums and associated hotels that hosted the 2012 and 2017 Africa Cup of Nations; the Schweitzer medical center with world-class research in tropical and other diseases; and an innovative urban planning tool to tackle the pressures of urbanization.
Among the road upgrades was the ‘Glass Road’ – reconfigured to create an urban boulevard in accordance with international standards. The road, complete with sidewalks, parking areas, solar public lighting, landscaping, underground water, electricity and telecoms networks was the first project of its kind in Libreville and will be used as a model for future similar urban road projects.
Gabon National Infrastructure: Connecting Communities
Another project of national significance was the technically complex Route Nationale 1, a 7km motorway out of Libreville, which provided the only route from the capital city to the rest of the country.
In 2017, the Government made a strategic decision to pivot to the so-called ‘Presidential Priority Projects’ that were small in scale but large in social impact. ANGTI responded and adapted to this new focus and delivered hundreds of wells with clean water, thousands of solar lights and revamped 6,400 primary schools.
- Backing the government’s major healthcare reform with vital infrastructure, including four new hospitals; a five-fold increase in hospital beds; a world-leading research center; and upgrades to 27 healthcare facilities country-wide
- Supporting the government’s goal for universal access to education with 17 new schools; more than 600 classrooms catering for an additional 15,000 children; and in 2020, the launch of a plan to deliver 400 additional classrooms
- Improving roads, rail and ports to boost trade links, with proven results – in the decade to 2020, a trebling of exports; and an increase in foreign direct investment by 60%
- Expanding digital participation and inclusion, with more than three quarters of Gabon’s population gaining access to broadband internet, with the installation of the Africa Coast to Europe submarine optical fiber, and a network of over 2,000km cables
- Providing reliable, clean energy for 64,000 additional homes, from a new hydro-electric dam and gas-powered facility; with plans in place for five further power facilities by 2025
- Delivering dozens of social impact projects: housing, solar lighting, IT classrooms for high schools in all provinces, primary school refurbishments and drinking water to communities country-wide
- Developing a multi award-winning sustainable suburb – Akanda, one of Gabon’s fastest-growing areas situated between the capital city and a national park that is central Africa’s most important site for migratory birds, and previously un-developed, now transformed into a ‘green town’ that is accessible on foot, hosts a civic center and public facilities, as well as the country’s first public transportation network. Winner of both 2016 Pierre l’Enfant International Planning Achievement and 2018 Richard H. Driehaus Form-Based Code awards
- Building a construction industry fit for purpose for the 21st century, with a local skilled workforce that can continue to build on the plan; and a strategic masterplan that will continue to serve the Government in the long term, allowing them to build priority infrastructure against ongoing needs and potential constraints
‘On behalf of the President of the Gabonese Republic, Chief of State, I would like to express how pleased we are with the past 10 years of collaboration, during which Bechtel helped Gabon deliver infrastructure projects as well as the National Infrastructure Master Plan. Bechtel’s expertise allowed many of our fellow citizens to build their capacity and competencies in different fields of project execution and management. In your approach you have indeed applied a true policy of capacity building.’ - Chief of Staff to the President of Gabon.
Investing in people
Creating local jobs and skills
From the very start of our partnership, we planned to employ and procure locally where possible. Where there were gaps, we supported local people and supply chains through training programmes to ensure we were able to always develop home-grown content, and we created a prestigious graduate programme. Each year the programme welcomed 300 apprentice places, and ANGTI’s ratio of local employees achieved 90% for the last two years of the partnership. We are incredibly proud to handover the infrastructure masterplan to a new generation of talented Gabonese engineers, project managers and construction professionals.
A local engineer who trained to be a project manager.
A Bechtel engineer helping to protect homes and infrastructure from flooding.
In 2013, Bechtel expanded its international partnership with Junior Achievement® (JA) to include a major new entrepreneurship in business skills training program for hundreds of young people living in Gabon. Bechtel staff served as volunteers and mentors alongside their JA counterparts, supporting hands-on learning methods to equip them with the right skills and experience to contribute to their country’s future success.’
Building the local economy
A key ambition for the Government was to process high demand local materials, like manganese and wood, for international trade as well as domestic jobs creation. In 2010, a Special Economic Zone was established just outside the capital city of Libreville, which provided investors with a dedicated site to transform processed wood and other raw materials into added-value products used locally or exported around the world. The completion of the facility alongside an extension of the Port of Owendo increased the export capacity of the country by 4.5 times in ten years from $86.8 million in 2009 to $411 million in 2018.
Gabon is among the world’s largest producers of manganese, an element used to produce a variety of important alloys, and to deoxidize steel and desulfurize. To increase production and trade of manganese, a new hydro-electric dam to power extraction facilities and a railway upgrade to transport the ore for export were prioritized. With this new infrastructure, manganese output in Gabon increased from $376 million in 2009 to $1,220 million in 2018.