A contract was signed on Thursday, according to which the next office of the Hungarian Trade and Cultural Center will commence in Libreville, Gabon. As a consequence, HTCC will be present in all major regions of Africa, and therefore assists Hungarian small and medium-sized enterprises to access the market.
Gabon is a practically an unknown territory for Hungarians. Unlike several countries in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, Gabon has never maintained close ties with the former socialist countries. Since the end of colonial era, the Western and French orientation of the country is contiguous. The volume of trade between Hungary and Gabon is currently insignificant. After the meeting, HTCC representative Balázs Szilágyi said that connections must not be built, but rebuilt. At the same time, this does not mean that there would be no serious opportunities for the Hungarians in Gabon. Although the territory of Gabon is twice as large as Hungary, there are only two and a half million residents living there. However, the country has gained significant influence in the region, because of its rich natural resources, including one of Africa’s largest oil reserves. Oil revenues provide much higher GDP than other countries in the region, which means greater consumer potential for the country.
Balázs Szilágyi highlighted agriculture as a possible area of cooperation. The country's population density is very low, so there are many unused and cultivable land. At the same time, Gabon is in need of importing quite a few essential foodstuff. Therefore, it is the country's fundamental interest to develop domestic agriculture, to eliminate dependence on imports and thus to increase food security. In this regard, the country counts on Hungarian specialists and experience. During an international forum, Minister of Agriculture István Nagy has already discussed the possibilities of cooperation with his Gabonese counterpart. They concluded that both parties are interested in further steps. The Gabonese partner of the HTCC also emphasized the possibility of education regarding the cooperation between the two country's institutions. According to the Gabonese partner, there are still plenty of opportunities left in this area. Thus he made a suggestion regarding the organization of a Hungarian Day in Libreville where different Hungarian universities and colleges could be introduced. In Gabon, opportunities for further education are very limited. Students from Gabon are already studying in Hungary's higher education institutions, so with the help of further promotion, this number can be significantly increased.
The head of the office in Libreville also emphasized that Gabon could be of interest to Hungarian businessmen because of the regional importance of the country. The center of the Economic Community of Central African States is in Libreville. Therefore, Gabon provides a gateway to a zone of ten countries with more than a hundred million residents. Gabon stands out not only with its good infrastructure and with its prominent public security, but also with its political stability.
In his opening speech, HTCC President Sándor Balogh emphasized that the establishment of the office in Gabon is of the outmost importance in the life of the Hungarian Trade and Cultural Center, because the number of the foreign offices has now been reached twenty-one. Sub-Saharan Africa, where HTCC is currently the most prominent Hungarian market factor, has been almost completely covered. It means that Hungarian entrepreneurs interested in Africa can now get a picture of their possibilities in a much more detailed way, through the whole continent.