A flagship project of the Gabonese government to streamline the economy is now at the centre of controversy.
The Ogooué mineral company, also known as Comilog, which is today the world’s second largest producer of manganese, is being blamed for lack of steering development among the local community around.
Locals in and around Moanda town have pointed out vivid inequalities in terms of development compared to other regions in Gabon. They are now crying foul over lack of basic amenities.
"Here in Comilog's Route Noir, we have no electricity, we have no water, we have no public pumps, and we want to have water and electricity," a resident told AFP journalist.
In 2018, Comilog launched a corporate social responsibility plan aimed at developing the city's infrastructure, rehabilitation of schools, social security coverage and high-speed internet. In 2019, the company announced that it had spent 20 million dollars on these projects.
But the mayor of Moanda confirmed that the projects were not sufficiently funded and therefore did not solve the long term problems in the area.
"Participation efforts have only been going on for two, two and a half years. What has been done is good, but there is still a lot to be done. That means that there are still under-integrated neighbourhoods, that there are secondary roads that are in a lamentable state. Comilog knows this. We think that two years out of fifty or even more is not enough to judge," Bernard Moulonda, Mayor of Moanda said.
Gabon is now the world's second-largest producer of manganese. This ore is mainly used in the manufacture of steel, ceramics, batteries and electronic circuits, and even in the food industry. For example, producing a ton of steel requires 7 kg of manganese – and Comilog produces over 4 million tons of it every year.