Ali Bongo Ondimba is 2016 AfricaWorld Man of the Year

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President Ali Bongo Ondimba - Diversifying the economy has become a goal for his administration

 

“Ultimately, we want to build a strong economy that does not solely rely on oil. This is not going to be easy. Oil prices are down and our economy is hurting as a result. This has given a new urgency to our diversification programme.” – President Ali Bongo Ondimba

 
As a pianist and drummer, Ali Bongo’s future looked very likely to tilt towards a musical career until he joined the government cabinet in 1989, and fought his way through political intrigues and elections to finally become Gabon leader.
 
Having won the Constitutional Court conducted recount with 41.79% of the vote on 12 October 2009 and sworn in as President on 16 October. President Ali Bongo went to work in his commitment to justice and anti-corruption which he promised that will “give back confidence and promote the emergence of new hope”. Having studied his policies which aim to unify and stabilize the polity, couple with the fact that he is creating an enabling atmosphere to ensure everybody has an equal opportunity, AfricaWorld News, after looking at nominations across the world, decided to award President Ali Bongo Ondimba our “AFRICAWORLD MAN OF THE YEAR 2016”.
 
Gabon’s first couple looking loved-up.

Background

 
Ali Bongo Ondimba was born by Omar Bongo and singer Patience Dabany in 1959 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo where his father served the French colonial authorities. Educated in France, Alain Bernard Bongo, as he was known before his conversion to Islam with Dad, went to a Protestant college in Cévennes, secondary studies in Neuilly and then to the Sorbonne to study law before returning home to join partisan politics.
 
Political Journey
 
On return from studies abroad, he entered politics, joining the ruling PDG in 1981; he was elected to the PDG Central Committee at the party’s Third Extraordinary Congress in March 1983. In that capacity, he entered the PDG Political Bureau in 1984. He was then elected to the Political Bureau at an ordinary party congress in September 1986. Ali was appointed special representative of the President and founder of the Gabon Democratic Party (PDG) until 1989, when he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. However, a constitutional change in 1991 requiring ministers to be aged 35 or more, obliged him to step-down as he was only 32 at the time. From his stint as ‘special representative’ of the former president to the short tenure as Foreign Affairs Minister, Ali became widely traveled, thus spreading and cementing his contacts among global leaders and policy makers. More so, he perfected his English and Arabic languages.
 
Love for Fatherland
 
When Ali Bongo appeared on television on June 8, 2009, calling “for calm and serenity of heart and reverence to preserve the unity and peace so dear to our late father”, on the event of his father pronounced dead in a Spanish hospital, a new challenge arose.
 
After Interim President Rose Francine Rogomb asked him to step down as Minister in the event of his aspiration to becoming the elected President of Gabon, Ali went to work. From being one of the ten candidates who submitted applications to become the ruling PDG’s candidate in the early presidential election, scheduled for 30 August 2009, Ali Bongo won the election with 42% of the vote, and agitation for a recount by opponents saw the
Constitutional Court conducting a recount before again declaring Bongo the winner with 41.79% of the vote on 12 October 2009.
 
Alas! The new leader was sworn-in as President on 16 October at an elaborate ceremony which was attended by African heads of state. He was said to have benefited immensely from his father’s philosophy of preserving stability through regional, tribal, and political balance in the allocation of power. Despite this quality of consultation and unity, he is a man who believes in excellence, competence and work. These attributes have formed the core of his presidency.
 
Economic Stride
 
When we look at the achievements of the Gabonese leader, his recent response to a question about his achievements come into perspective, “I look at our achievements in terms of how much progress Gabon has made overall. We have to ensure we do not simply improve in certain areas, but that we improve in all areas.”
President Ali Bongo Ondimba’s biggest achievements over the past years was not only did he improve the country’s progress in certain areas but in all areas. There are specific projects such as completing half of the planned road connection projects.
Transport
 
Ali Bongo Ondimba is presently boosting tourism exchange between Gabon and the outside world. In December, he visited the republic of China to sign an air transport agreement between the two countries and other investment opportunities such as agriculture, industry and banking.
 
In 2009 he embarked on a massive construction in Gabon and today, there are 672 kilometres of newly paved roads across the country and 770 kilometres still currently construction, He also paved and commissioned the road network of Lebreville, the capital of Gabon. A new airport was also recently inaugurated at Port-Gentil, Gabon’s second largest city.
Port-Gentil – For the first time in 50 years, Port-Gentil was opened and it is the second populous and major economic city, which is vital to the country’s economy and can now be accessible by road from the rest of Gabon. This is important to free up commodities and trade.
 
As a matter of fact, import and export now have the space to boost employment and other sectors of the economy. This is indeed an important and major economic achievement. There is no other way Gabon can be transformed without first linking the rest of the country to Port-Gentil.
 
Diversification Programme – President Ali Bongo Ondimba sent 2000 people to Malaysia, which is one of the world’s largest palm oil producers, to learn how to run industrial plantations. These people came back and assisted in training others (Technology transfer), which is also a major achievement in the country. As a visionary leader, the fall and fluctuation of oil prices demand diversification.
 
Ali Bongo made sure that his administration maintained the momentum of ensuring that everybody has an equal opportunity and inclusion. He is creating a strong economy that will ensure a middle-class and can improve condition for rural dwellers. In doing this, he launched Gabonese Initiative for Achieving Agricultural Outcomes with Engaged Citizenry programme. This initiative has given people in rural areas new opportunities such as land grants. This is assisting the economy to allow for greater social mobility. This had also given new urgency to his diversification programme
 
Reformation of Public Administration – Ali Bongo Ondimba reformation of Gabon’s public administration is another of his biggest achievements that is worth mentioning. He has reviewed key legislative instruments, such as the forest and mining codes to improve Gabon’s competitiveness. At the same time, he created a very strong middle class and classes of entrepreneurs respectively.
 
He cultivated entrepreneurs and reduced the size of bureaucracy to avoid waste. Ali Bongo Ondimba also rolled out new programme which had assisted people to leave administration and joined the private sector fields such as agriculture.
 
Job – On the Job sector, President Ali Bongo Ondimba accelerated the implementation of his government reforms with regards to job creation. He has so far created an attractive market, and increased funding for education and training programs in Gabon. There exists an excellent new apprentice program that assists the private sectors or investors when reaching out for qualified manpower. In addition, his administration presently works with the private sector to ensure that every company with over 50 employees follow guidelines for transfer of technology. This means that graduates will not only have the degrees but also skilled for the job market.
 
Investment – President Bongo Ondimba has created a connection of foreign investors, particularly French and Singaporean investors in Gabon. He travelled to China on the invitation of Beijing for bilateral engagements. He is bringing new companies from all over the world who are willing to take part in the investment opportunities opened in Gabon.
 

Football – This year’s edition of the biennial African Cup of Nations tournament gets underway in Gabon from January 14, and culminates with the final on February 5. Gabon was named as the host of 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in 2015. The country beat rival bids from Algeria and Ghana in a vote by the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) executive committee at a meeting in Cairo. Gabon replaced war-torn Libya, who withdrew as 2017 hosts because of the civil conflict raging in the country.

CAF President, Issa Hayatou announce Gabon as winner and host of AFCON 2017

It will be the second time that the country will stage the tournament after co-hosting the 2012 edition with neighbours Equatorial Guinea. Gabon will use four venues for the 16-team tournament: they will be Libreville and Franceville, which were used in 2012, plus Port Gentil and Oyem. President Ali Bongo Ondimba must be commended for developing sports, particularly soccer, which open doors of opportunities for the youth.

Gabon striker and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang beat Yaya Toure to be named African Footballer of the Year 2015 at the yearly Confederation of African Football (CAF) award ceremony. The prolific Borussia Dortmund forward, who received 143 votes to four-time winner Toure’s 136 to win the most important individual soccer prize in Africa, is the first player from the central African country to win the award.

Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang won Africa’s top football honour, beating four-time winner Ivorian Yaya Toure and Ghana’s Andre Ayew to the 2015 Caf African Footballer of the Year award at a ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria.

Family – Ali Bongo married his first wife, the French-born Sylvia Najma Valentin, in 1989; she is the daughter of Édouard Valentin, CEO of the Omnium gabonaisd’assurancesetde réassurances (OGAR) insurance company. He has four children: a daughter, Malika Bongo Ondimba, and three sons, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, Jalil Bongo Ondimba and Bilal Bongo.