High Commissioner Veluppillai Kananathan presented the Letter of Credence appointing him as the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Gabonese Republic with residence in Kenya to the President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba at the State House in Libreville on 28 March 2023. During the private meeting that followed the official ceremony, the President and the High Commissioner exchanged views on the need to promote relations under the recently established diplomatic relations between the two countries in many areas of cooperation, especially in trade, investment, and other economic activities, to reach their true potential.
At the outset, President Ondimba requested the High Commissioner to convey his greetings to his Sri Lankan counterpart, President Ranil Wickremesinghe and said that he was looking forward to developing close ties with him to bring the two countries together for pragmatic cooperation for mutual benefit.
High Commissioner Kananathan explained to President Ondimba that the current government headed by Ranil Wickremesinghe attached significance to Sri Lanka’s relations with Africa and wanted to strengthen its cooperation individually with countries in the region and collectively through the African Union and other sub-regional organizations.
As members of the global south, the G77 and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), High Commissioner Kananathan highlighted that Sri Lanka and Gabon share common views on global issues and issues of mutual interest to the two countries at the multilateral forums such as the United Nations Organization and its agencies. He also said that Sri Lanka appreciated the support extended by the Gabonese Republic to Sri Lanka at the international forums and looked forward to consolidating such valuable support to strengthen bilateral relations. President Ondimba while affirming the High Commissioner’s views said that the ties between the two countries should go beyond bilateral relations to close cooperation in the multilateral forums on global issues such as peace and security, the protection of the environment, sustainable development, and the fight against climate change.
President Ondimba further said that there was huge potential to develop economic cooperation between the two countries in trade, investment, agriculture, economic and technical cooperation, and many other areas, to inject impetus into bilateral relations. The President added that he was resolutely engaged in diversifying the economy of the Gabonese Republic under an ambitious Transformation Acceleration Plan (PAT). He invited Sri Lankans to visit the Special Investment Zones as well as look at other opportunities to consider the prospects of investing in Gabon, especially in the mining industry, particularly mining of deposits of manganese and iron ore, as well as other areas such as the timber industry, agriculture, etc., exploiting the most beneficial and lucrative terms and conditions presented for FDIs in Gabon. The President of Gabon also invited Sri Lankans to engage in the most gainful trade and business activities in diverse areas, for which plenty of opportunities are within reach.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the President, while wishing the High Commissioner every success in promoting bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Gabon, assured him of the Gabonese government’s fullest support and cooperation towards that end.
High Commissioner Kananathan also had a series of meetings in Gabon with ministers and officials, which included the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hermann Immongault; the Minister of Energy and Hydraulic Resources Oswald Severin Mayounou; the Minister of Mines and Geology Elvis Ossinji; the Minister of Fisheries Biendi Maganga-Moussavou; the Minister of Agriculture Charles Mve Ella and the Director General of the National Investment Promotion Agency of Gabon (ANPI-GABON) Steeves Tsounghat. All these meetings mainly focused on potential investment opportunities for Sri Lankan investors in Gabon. The Minister of Fisheries, while remarking that Gabon’s tuna fish from the Atlantic Ocean is one of the best in the world, proposed that Sri Lankan investors consider investing in the construction of a tuna processing plant in Libreville. On the whole, the Ministers and authorities assured the High Commissioner of assistance and cooperation to promote Sri Lankan investments in Gabon and exploit the untapped and profitable areas of interest.
Gabon, a country along the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, is rich in natural resources. One of the most significant business opportunities in Gabon is in the mining industry. Gabon has large deposits of manganese, gold, iron, and timber resources, and the government is actively encouraging foreign investment in the mining sector. Gabon is also rich in oil and gas, which have traditionally been the country’s largest sources of revenue. Another promising sector for investment in Gabon is agriculture, which is promoted through agricultural development zones. Foreign investors can take advantage of these arrangements and related attractive policies by investing in agribusiness ventures, such as the processing and export of agricultural products.
High Commissioner Kananathan is currently serving as the resident High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Kenya and Permanent Representative to the UNEP and UN-HABITAT in Nairobi, as well as being concurrently accredited to twenty-one countries in the region.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Sri Lanka.