Gabon’s President, Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba, late Monday tapped his agricultural minister, Raymond Ndong Sima, as the country’s new prime minister.
A former director at the state transportation ministry, Sima also has an expansive private sector background.
Presidential adviser Igor Simard said the prime minister will play a key role in implementing President Bongo Ondimba’s “Emerging Gabon” Initiative, which he said is to transform and diversify the country’s economy.
“The new prime minister will help the country move forward in all the reforms President Bongo Ondimba launched since he was elected in 2009,” said Simard. “The president chose him because he has a dual background in government, as well as in the private sector.”
Simard said by naming Dong Sima, who hails from the northern part of the country, Bongo Ondimba sends a strong message to all Gabonese.
“He is from Woleu-Ntem and that makes it the first time in the history of the country that a prime minister has been appointed from this region. Traditionally, the prime minister used to come from estuaire, Libreville,” said Simard. “This is a very big, positive message that the president is sending to all Gabonese people telling them that everybody can aspire to great heights. So, this is a very important message from the president.”
Since his election in 2009, Bongo Ondimba launched his “Emerging Gabon” Initiative, which rests on three main pillars, including “green” Gabon, services and “industrial” Gabon.
Simard said Dong Sima’s unique technical know-how will enable him to play a key role in implementing the president’s initiatives to better the lives of the people of Gabon.
“He was the best choice from the president because, based on his experience in the private sector and in the government administration, he will be able to handle all the challenges,” said Simard. “Remember, the president has a very ambitious program for this country. He wants Gabon to play a leading role in a lot of things in the sub-region, as well as in the entire African continent in his emerging Gabon initiative.”
Analysts say, following his election, Bongo Ondimba committed himself to transforming policies that administration officials say will diversify the economy and attract foreign direct investment.
Simard said the goal of Bongo Ondimba’s policy reforms is to ensure that Gabon becomes a regional reference in financial services, information and communications technology (ICT), trade-related services aligned with a green economy and specialized fields within higher education, health and research.