Expanding Olam’s business in Africa
Africa is a strategic region for Olam which today has operations in 24 countries across the continent. Africa has also been identified to be separate vertical for growth and investments under 4 themes:
- Africa as a cost-competitive producer;
- Africa as a growing consumer of food;
- Africa as a growing consumer of branded packaged foods;
- Africa infrastructure (warehousing, logistics and port investments).
Olam’s strategic partnership with the Gabonese Republic in 4 business platforms (Palm, Rubber, Fertiliser, Ag Logistics and Infrastructure) underpins its growth and development in Africa while leveraging its position as a world leader in agricultural supply chain management.
Supporting diversification of Gabon’s economy
Gabon’s economic dependence on fossil fuel exports, comprising about 50% of GDP, has led to under-investment in agriculture, and despite having a population of just 1.6 million people, 60% of the food consumed in Gabon is imported, including easily grown crops such as bananas and cassava. This amounts to about US$600 million per year.
Gabon will look to agriculture to help diversify its economy, reduce its food imports, increase food security, reduce rural poverty and create job opportunities – especially for the 26% of the population who are unemployed.
To date, our operations have created over 8,000 jobs and encouraged the development of small businesses close to our sites, plus the growth of a talented and diverse multinational team. Eventually, we estimate that Olam Gabon’s entire operations will account for 6% of the country’s workforce and also lead to about a 9% increase in the average income per person. Overall, we expect the projects to have a direct impact on the external trade balance, which is forecast to increase to 22% by the year 2022.
In 2014, we helped establish the GRAINE a smallholder programme in a public-private partnership with the Gabonese Republic. This pioneering scheme identifies, allocates and transfers parcels of land that are environmentally and socially suitable for plantation development to co-operatives of Gabonese citizens who will be trained in plantation management and the production of palm and food crops such as bananas, cassavas, tomatoes and hot peppers. As well as increasing food security and reducing import dependence, this scheme aims to create a new generation of skilled, productive and socially responsible farmers. For more information on our efforts to help unlock mutual value for rural communities in Gabon, click here.