Gabon Cybercity wins foreign investors
By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo
Cybercity, a multi-billion ICT project located in the Mandji Island near the oil-rich city of Port-Gentil in Gabon, is reported to be becoming one of Central Africa’s top targets for foreign investors.
The government of Ali Bongo said Cybercity will, upon completion, become the region’s ICT hub and a major regional and continental digital communication centre that will attract several African and overseas companies.
These companies, it emphasises, will do business as if they were doing it somewhere in the developed world.
This prediction seems to be true because Moroccan delegates from 15 ICT companies who visited Gabon on 20-24 October 2014 said they were impressed by Cybercity, and were therefore ready to help Gabon make its dream come true.
A delegation of US investors who also visited Gabon this year were also said to have been seduced by Cybercity. The delegation was led by Computers Frontiers President Barbara Keating.
Cybercity will comprise eight digital centres, namely Gabon Internet City (GIC), Gabon Hosting Zone (GHZ), Gabon Outsourcing Zone (GOZ), Gabon Media City (GMC), Gabon Studio City (GSC), Gabon Tech Zone (GTZ), Gabon Knowledge Village (GKV) and Gabon Green Power (G2PE).
The construction is set to begin towards the end of 2015, the government said.
Decrypting his Digital Gabon vision, Bongo urged investing companies to come in numbers, saying that whoever invests in the project and settles here will be exempted for paying tax for 10 years.
Director General for Taxation Joel Ogouma said companies that settle in Cybercity will have their tax on profit reduced by 10% from the 11th year, and will be free to repatriate their funds, among others.
The government, which is hoping that technology giants such as Microsoft, Google, IBM, HP and Dell will eventually come on board, says the ICTs were a critical element in Gabon’s strategy to emerge and diversify its economy.
Technologist analyst John Osei-Seidu said the project could not have been planned without the landing of fibre optic in the country.
“The landing of fibre optic is of a critical importance in these countries because it constitutes a foundation for all future major ICT projects on the continent,” he said.