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Entrepreneurship Summit speech from President Ali Bongo Ondimba
"I have the honor today to speak to you at the official opening to the 5th Global Entrepreneurship Summit with the theme: “Harnessing the power of technology for innovation and entrepreneurship”."

Mr. President of the Republic of Guinea
Mr. Vice President of the United States of America,
Mr. Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Morocco,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I have the honor today to speak to you at the official opening to the 5th Global Entrepreneurship Summit with the theme: “Harnessing the power of technology for innovation and entrepreneurship”. Before I begin my speech, I would like to pay respects and thank His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco and the friendly Moroccan people for the warm welcome and hospitality they have shown me as well as the delegation accompanying me.

I would also like to thank the US Government, who throughout the years, have upheld this wonderful initiative that Morocco, as
an economically dynamic country with an exemplary entrepreneurial policy is hosting today.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is with great interest that I take part in this Summit whose themes deal with innovation, creativity and technology.

I believe indeed that information and communication technologies are of particular importance to our continent in that they are already redefining, both today and even more so in the future, new aspects to our economy.

Many traditional businesses such as banks, telephone communication and logistics have experienced profound changes and transformations in their relationship with information. This has taught us that from now on, our companies must resolutely be able to anticipate, adapt, change or show pragmatism and innovation or risk experiencing a decline. They have no other choice but to question themselves.

In Gabon, the Strategic Plan for an Emerging Gabon we have implemented offers many opportunities to the Gabonese people who are gifted with entrepreneurial spirit, especially in agriculture, farming, agroindustry, fishing, tourism, services, health, management, finances, the arts and culture, communication and in many other sectors.

It is true that there is no lack of hesitations, between the psychological comfort of job security working for public administration and the risk involved in entrepreneurship, with gains which could otherwise be higher if it is successful.

As we know, banks play an important role in creating the entrepreneurial fabric. In addition to supporting this process, it is important for low-rate interest policies to be implemented in order to stimulate the acquisition of production means or the availability of working funds necessary to start up any new economic activity.

Within our strategy, and uniquely in our social contract, we have placed women at the center of the requirement for social transformation, fighting inequalities, poverty and exclusion. For us, they are at the core of development.

This means that we count on them and their entrepreneurial abilities as they have been since the foundation of our traditional society to this day.
The same can be said for young people, whose openness to the world, and whose dynamism and tendency for new technologies are undeniable advantages to be considered through entrepreneurial education, professional internships and incentivizing public measures.

Knowledge and expertise are only some of the tools to be harnessed for entrepreneurial purposes, generating the creation of wealth in young people, and especially their empowerment.

Therefore, this means that we must reinforce the economic capacities of both women and young people to incite them to
create, pursue and reinforce activities that will generate revenue and create jobs.

Ladies and gentlemen,

At the last New York Forum Africa which took place in May in Libreville, these young people expressed themselves. They showed their optimism in the future as well as their aspirations for a better world with more opportunities and jobs and better living conditions.

Increasingly, our young people intend to be stakeholders in and of themselves and want to fully play this role. They have already demonstrated their entrepreneurial spirit, their boldness and their ability to measured risks.

For this reason, in order to encourage and promote entrepreneurship, I took the initiative to create the GRAND PRIZE OF EXCELLENCE, which will reward the best Gabonese entrepreneurs starting on December 5th.

This award reinforced the affirmation of a new generation of economic stakeholders who are assertive, ambitious and open to the world; this generation of young Gabonese entrepreneurs who believe in themselves and are open to meet the generational challenge: a winning Gabon.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Gabon is feeding the ambition to raise itself to the ranks of the most competitive African nations by 2025 through diversified and sustainable drivers of growth.

To reach this goal, we are carrying out the reforms necessary to further modernize our administration, ensure proper governance, reduce barriers to investment, create a world-class business framework and to implement basic economic infrastructure to support competition.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The goal is also for us to promote the formation and development of Gabonese SMEs. The role of the government is not only to offer incentives that are best adapted to stimulate entrepreneurship, to guarantee the efficiency and coherence of public policy, but also to ensure the simplification and swiftness of processing administrative questions.

In addition, special emphasis must be put on the link between education and the world of business. From primary school to higher education, from those who stay at home to those work in public administration or in companies, we must be sure that each person has the ability to adapt to innovation, or better yet, to innovate.

Human resources are therefore a key aspect to this entrepreneurship that must necessarily be innovative.

Being fully aware of these challenges, Gabon is determined to take control of its destiny. This is the driving force of the societal project I am proposing to my countrymen.

The “Emerging Gabon” strategic plan has already started to show very encouraging results, reinforcing our desire to pursue the entire process of transforming our mentality and our economy.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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