Wednesday, 3 January 2018

GABON FOREST … Sustainably Managed Resource

Boasting the second highest forestry potential in Africa, Gabon’s forests covers 22.8 million hectares, i.e. 88% of the country’s land surface. There are three major forest types: evergreen rainforest in the west characterised by abundance of Okoumé & Ozigo, the central Gabonese forest covering most of the country with abundance of species like Azobé & Ayous and semi-deciduous forest with dominance of Limba, Wenge & Ayous. With a low overall population density and 60% of population living in urban areas, there is little anthropogenic pressure on Gabon’s forests. Gabonese Republic (2008) indicated an average annual deforestation rate of 0.12% i.e. 10,000 ha per year. All forest in Gabon is owned by the state. The 2001 Forest Code divides forest into two categories i.e. First Category (13.5 million hectares) include Production PFE managed by private concessionaires and the protection PFE managed directly by the state. The Second Category (8.3 million hectares), the non-PFE, known as domaine rural, includes open access forest for hunting, agriculture, mining and gathering of NTFPs, sacred forests and community protected area for which rights are limited to local communities.

Over the past ten years, Gabon has gone through a profound process of reform affecting the forest and environment. A new forest law has come into force that emphasizes Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) as the overall approach in the forestry. Forest Management plans are fully developed for 3.45 million hectares of forest in concessions and were under preparation for another 6 million hectares of forest in concessions as in 2011. An estimated 2.42 million hectares of the natural production PFE is under SFM, including 1.87 million hectares of forest were certified under the FSC (some of them also had ISO 14001 and Keurhout certificates) as of June, 2010.

Gabonese Republic is aiming to turn Gabon into a world leader in certified tropical timber production through an industrial strategy aimed at sustainably managing timber stocks and by promoting secondary and tertiary processing.

Forestry is, and will remain, one of the pillars of Gabon’s economic and social development. The private sector has become a major driver of industrial forest development and the export of forest products. Gabonese Republic has introduced a system to institutionalize community forestry as a way of meeting local needs for timber and other forest products. Gabon has a low deforestation rate, forests rich in valuable timber species and among the best prospects for a healthy and sustainable forest industry. Reforestation has been continuously promoted, and selective thinning and clearing have prevented the over exploitation. Over 50 firms are engaged in exploitation of Gabon’s forests. Forest concessions covering about 12 million hectares have been granted by the Gabonese Republic. The timber industry is already the largest private sector employer, employing 28% of the working population, and represents an extremely significant growth potential.

Padouck Coffee Table


Timber Species… the Red Gold from Gabon

Gabon’s forests offers enormous possibilities with a logging potential of 12.5 million hectares with more than 400 species.Until 2010 i.e. before ban on export of raw logs, Gabon was the largest exporter of raw wood in the region, and its sales represent 20% of Africa’s raw wood exports.Gabon’s reserves of exploitable timber is estimated to upwards of 400 million CBM which includes 130 million CBM of Okoumé, 15-25 million CBM of Azobé and 10-20 million CBM of Padouk.

Commercial forest harvesting in Gabon began as early as 1892, but only in 1913 was Okoumé, Gabon’s most valuable wood, introduced to the international market. Gabon supplies 90% of the world’s Okoumé, known worldwide for the production of plywood.Its attractive appearance means that it is often used decoratively as the top surface veneer in panelling and furniture or, in solid form in luxury items such as boxes for cigars or other high value items (e.g. audio equipment). Physical and mechanical properties: Widely recognised as one the world’s best materials for rotary cut veneers, Okoumé timber is easy to work and is as suitable for the manufacturing of furniture as for interior joinery. Moreover, it is a species of a very even colour, good bonding performances and good compatibility with finished products.

Hardwood Species like Sapelli, Sipo, Acajou, Andoung, Gheombi from Gabon are Pinkish Red to Brownish in colour and are similar to Genuine Mahogany (Swieteniamacrophylla) in terms of colour, appearance and density. These timber species could very well serve as an alternative for Mahogany as it is listed in CITES Appendix II. These species are suited for luxury and high end furniture and joinery. This is the reason for their high demand in Europe and USA due to its colour perception. They are exported in high volume to China, Vietnam and Malaysia, as they are the biggest manufacturers and exporters of furniture to developed countries.

Wenge is the premier dark hardwood from the forests of Gabon and suitable for contemporary interiors as it blends quite well with glass and stainless steel. Due to its dark colour, it is well suited for straight/clean line furniture and is quite popular in Europe.

Gabon supplies 90% of the world’s Okoumé, known in Europe and America for the production of veneer & plywood. Its demand is also picking up in Asia especially India and China.

Iroko, Beli, Tali and Okan species can be considered as alternative species to provide teak like finish. These species are quite popular in Asia and Middle East for furniture and joinery. Tali and Okan are extensively used in furniture manufacturing in Vietnam, mainly for export and has helped Vietnam to become second largest exporter of furniture after China. Furniture made out of these species is very popular in Asian and American markets.

Kevazingo Live Edge

Light colour tropical wood species from Gabon includes Izombe, Movingui and Bilinga. These species have appearance similar to Merbau / Kwila and are suitable for furniture as well as joinery and interiors.

Kevazingo (Guibourtia Spp.) is the most expensive and coveted wood species from the forests of Gabon. Trunk diameter of 150 cm is quite common for Kevazingo. Live-edge table tops made from it is in high demand in China because of its natural beauty and its coherence with customs and beliefs of Chinese community world over.

Padouck is a dark coloured redwood found in Gabon; quite similar to Rosewood and suitable for outdoor furniture as well as joinery. Outdoor flooring, decking and garden furniture made out of it is exported to European markets. It is resistant to damage from weather elements. Padouck is also very popular in southern part of India due to its red colour and high density. Door and door frames made from Padouck are very popular in the Asian markets.

Gabon … change just begun

In last decade, African countries have promoted the idea of processing of natural resources within their countries itself so as to generate jobs and give boost to their economy. Following the same ideology, Gabonese Republic also banned exports of raw logs in 2010. Thereafter, in order to facilitate the secondary and tertiary processing of timber and other natural resources within the country, Gabonese Republic has embarked on a journey to provide amenable ecosystem and infrastructure. In the same pursuit, Gabonese Republic developed 1126 hectares SEZ at Nkok in partnership with Olam International, Singapore to provide ready and reliable infrastructure. Gabon SEZ offers an array fiscal incentives to industrial investors which includes complete exemption from all taxes (income tax, corporate tax, capital gain, MAT, VAT, customs, Property Tax), reduced rate of export duty (0-2%) and permission for 100% repatriation of profits.

Gabon Wood Hub… First Furniture Manufacturing Cluster in Central Africa

Nkok SEZ also has 60,000 square meters of ready to use sheds as Furniture Manufacturing Cluster to promote manufacturing of finished products i.e. furniture in Gabon. Shed are provided on rental model in module of 500 square meters to furniture manufacturers intending to start their unit in Furniture Manufacturing Cluster. The cluster also offers common facilities like:

Kiln Drying: Dedicated 1000 cubic meter per month capacity Kiln Drying has been installed to serve furniture manufacturing units.

Show Room: A show room spread over 9000 square meters to showcase furniture manufactured in the cluster.

Packaging and Logistics: 2000 square meters packaging and 4000 square meters logistics facility within cluster for customs clearance.

As of now, there are ten units working from this cluster. The quality of raw material i.e. wood available and huge variety of wood species found in Gabon is a unique opportunity for any furniture manufacturing unit. Matured wood of any size, any length is available in good quantity on sustainable basis. Furniture Units are starting manufacturing of upscale furniture for customers in Asian, European and USA markets. Furniture majors like Wolf Mobile [Germany], Artemano [Canada], Terry [USA], Williams-Sonoma [USA], Habufa [Netherland] etc. have expressed their interest to buy furniture manufactured from sustainably harvested wood available in Africa.

Solid wood furniture made from various wood species like Beli, Tali, Sapeli, Mouvingui, Wenge, Padouck and Kevazingo is of pertinent interest to many furniture majors.Moreover, major import houses in USA and Europe have taken a resolution to source minimum 30% of furniture done with SFM compliant / FSC certified wood by 2020 and this SFM compliant / FSC certified wood with genuine Traceability and Legality certificates is easily available in Gabon.

For business enquiries, please get in touch with team of GSEZ at

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Locked Out - The tale of the Dindigul Lock Makers

Cops and robbers make interesting stories. The more fascinating ones are locks and thieves especially when this lock has a hundred year old history. Dindigul’s unique industry is today locked away in the past where the flourishing industry with more than 250 units in its heyday has now dwindled down to just seven.

The locks have fascinating names and each lock has a special characteristic that is a story in itself. If the saavipudi poottu is opened with the wrong key the lock will get jammed and the lock would be rendered useless putting the thief and the owner in despair. 

The last generation of Dindigul’s lock makers seems to be locked into gloominess. The reason aptly summed up by Mr. Gani who earns Rs300 to Rs350 a day. He laments “Wages are better in the construction industry but I cannot move out of lock-making.” 
Learn more about these fascinating artisans:

Monday, 27 November 2017

China Opens World’s Coolest Library With 1.2 Million Books, And Its Interior Will Take Your Breath Away

Located in the Binhai Cultural District In Tianjin, the five-story library, which was designed by Dutch design firm MVRDV in collaboration with the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI) and has since been dubbed “The Eye of Binhai”, covers 34,000 square metres and can hold up to 1.2 million books. Taking just three years to complete, the library features a reading area on the ground floor, lounge areas in the middle sections and offices, meeting spaces, and computer/audio rooms at the top. We’re not sure how much studying we’d get done though – we’d be far too busy marveling at the awesome architecture!

Courtesy: Bored Panda:

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Infrastructure and Projects Department of “Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited

After playing host to the who’s who of Mumbai’s banking corporates, including ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, IDFC, Standard Chartered, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Citibank, the BKC complex welcomed the latest entrant – Kotak Bank.

The office with an area of about 1.5 lakh square feet, houses about 1,500 Kotak Bank employees. The building that came up in early 2000 was constructed by Shapoorji Pallonji and designed by Hafeez Contractor.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

KiTEC R & D Unit Recognition

About the Certification: The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Government of India, issued the Certificate of Registration on TU/IV-R&D/4138/2016 w. e. f. 21 March 2017 recognizing KiTEC R & D arm as “In House R & D Unit”. The certificate is valid from 21 March 2017 to 31 March 2019 meaning three financial years.  The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) is a part of the Ministry of Science and Technology, which was announced through a Presidential Notification, dated January 4, 1985. It has a mandate to carry out the activities relating to indigenous technology promotion, development, utilization and transfer.

Benefit to Stakeholders: Innovation is a continuous process and a major growth driver for KiTEC since inception. With this recognition our “Customers” will be more inclined to put their faith is us as we would be able to provide them solutions. This will also improve our acceptance in Government purchases.
 The pride created as Strong players in the field of Composite Piping system will make our “Employees” and “Marketing Associates” happy and “Suppliers” reassured.

 Benefits to KiTEC: A Certified Research Institution gives a number of advantages to the Company. Primarily, it is a shot in the arm for continuous innovation efforts. However, the recognition also enables the Company to avail of a number of fiscal incentives, the primary one being the ability to claim Weighted Deduction of the company’s total R&D expenditure subject to approval from Income tax department. Excise & Custom Duty Exemptions  for the products patented by the company as per Govt. Notification No24 /2007 & 16 /2007 with the right terms & Conditions. The Company is in the process of filing various Product Patents. This journey of innovation will continue with the new “In House R & C Centre” status to the companies R&D laboratory.

KiTEC’s Efforts to reach this Milestone: KiTEC’s R & D team is active right from the inception as the new concept of piping needed new jointing concepts. Since then the company has been constantly on its toes to improve the jointing techniques and increase the size range as well incorporate new polymers and metals in composite pipe. 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Brinda has delivered analytical and critical talks as well as presented papers in India and abroad on her work and other related subjects. She has given lectures in the USA, UK, Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India. Her work has been exhibited in the USA, UK and Japan. She has served as an examiner and jury member in India and Abroad. Some of her selected works are given below:


It is a Greenfield project of 11 acres. It has been designed for 2000 Engineers with all supporting buildings such as the corporate block, cafeteria and creational facilities. The  concept of this project consisted of individual buildings being linked together through landscaping. The landscape consisted of stonewalls, sunken courtyards, an open-air amphitheatre, water bodies and greenery. In this campus the individual buildings are linked together through a core idea: a stone wall that meanders through the landscaping. She worked on a concept of simplicity and serenity, harmony and balance.

To restore this Grade II Heritage building, that now serves as the global headquarters of software major Tata Consultancy Services was complex and one of the first restoration projects of its kind in Mumbai. The unique feature of the process was that, the external stone wall or shell of the building was left standing while the entire unstable inside was gutted. A modern office interior with state-of-the-art technology was created inside the shell that stood intact. The challenge of restoring this structure was further compounded by various other factors such as working on a site located in Fort, in the heart of Mumbai's commercial district and fighting the torrential monsoon rain with the stone walls propped and the high ground water table which required the constant use of dewatering pumps to enable work to proceed. The metamorphosis that commenced in October 2005 concluded in June 2007 and demonstrates how historic buildings need not be razed to the ground for reconstruction even if they are damaged by fire or other disasters.

Ar Brinda Somaya

Brinda Somaya is an architect and urban conservationist. Upon completion of her Bachelor of Architecture from Mumbai University and her Master of Arts from Smith College in Northampton, MA, USA, she started her firm Somaya and Kalappa Consultants in 1978 in Mumbai, India. 

In May 2012 she was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, Smith College. In 2014 she was awarded the Indian Institute of Architects – Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement. In 2015 she was honoured as Distinguished Professor by the Indian Education Society’s College of Architecture (IES), Mumbai.

Over three decades she has merged architecture, conservation and social equity in projects ranging from institutional campuses and rehabilitation of an earthquake-torn village to the restoration of an 18th century Cathedral, showing that progress and history need not be atODDS . Her philosophy: ‘the Architect’s role is that of guardian – hers is the conscience of the built and un-built environment.’ 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Godrej Plant 13 Annexe Building, Vikhroli, becomes Platinum Certified Green Building

Godrej Plant 13 Annexe Building, Vikhroli, has become the Greenest Platinum rated building in India under Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) Existing Buildings (EB) category by scoring highest points. The building became the first EB to excel in all the fields of sustainability by scoring 90 points out of 100. With this achievement, this building becomes the third in Mumbai and ninth in India to achieve the Platinum Certification and therefore joins the elite group in the field of sustainability. IGBC from CII manages the Green Building Certification Program in India. IGBC EB Rating system focuses on the sustained performance of the buildings with respect to its green features.  

Godrej as an organization has always been a leading contributor in the field of Green Buildings in India right since 2004. Green Building Consultancy Services (GBCS) business vertical of Godrej Electricals and Electronics facilitated the entire Green Building Certification Program along with the support of Godrej Construction, ENCON dept, Garden dept, Plant 13 Annexe facility team and Canteen dept who contributed tremendously to make this achievement possible.
Some of the key Green features which attributed to this achievement are:
  • Energy Consumption was 30% less as compared to a conventional building. Efficient architectural design (with low glass area, good orientation, heat reflective glass), highly efficient AC system, VFDs, BMS, use of natural daylight, efficient operational control - all contributed to energy savings.
  • Use of water efficient fixtures along with use of treated water for landscaping, flushing and cooling tower ensured that the building consumed 50% less water as compared to a conventional building.
  • Effective management of waste i.e. recycling, composting, e-waste management and so on.
  • Efficient landscape cover with roof garden as well as heat reflective paints on roof that help to reduce the heat island effect.
  • Use of Green certified and eco friendly Housekeeping chemicals
  • Employee engagement through various activities organized in Hubble
  • Proximity to public transport and provision of shuttle services
  • Proactive maintenance and sustained energy management activities in the building by implementing projects like solar heat pump, LED lights, dish washer, geothermal cooling and others. Continuous monitoring of energy and water consumption and monitoring of building performance through energy, water and waste audits.
  • Plans to generate more than 7% of energy by installing solar roof top PV cells