Teachers in Gabon, West Africa, voted on Monday to continue their strike for, amongst other things, allowances which will give them a living wage. These allowances had already been promised to them by the government. The teachers are also demanding holiday pay, the regularisation as government employees of pre-primary school teachers, and the construction of class rooms.

Last week school students demonstrated to demand that the government accede to the teachers' demands. In the video above they say that they are striking in solidarity with their teachers and that the government should pay their profs what they are owed. They are faced by riot police but insist that they are simply exercising their democratic right to demonstrate. The government's response was to shut down all schools and the young people were attacked by police with tear gas. Reports speak of children as young as 10 or 12 being attacked by the police and several police attacking one child.

With the help of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Gabon - which has rich oil reserves and the second biggest area of forest in Africa - is open for business. The country is ruled, after a disputed election, by the second member of the Bongo dynasty - Ali Bongo - who according to reports has huge wealth while a third of the people live in abject poverty. According to one report, the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in the country: 

. . .  offer a number of advantages to investors, including full exemption from tax for the first ten years, and then concessional tax of 10% for the next five years. They are also fully exempted from custom fees and duties on imported materials, such as machinery, and the export of manufactured products. Furthermore, investors are exempted from paying Value Added Tax (VAT).

Investors also benefit from relaxed labour laws and a 50% reduction in the price of power compared to the electricity costs existing in the nearby capital city of Libreville.

Gabon also has an SEZ for its mining and oil and gas industries, according to Ndoye. The 1,500 hectare Mandji Tax Free Zone near Gabon’s oil capital, Port-Gentil, offers similar benefits for investors

So while teachers wait to be paid a living wage and for classrooms in which to teach, and while children wait for an education, the country is prividing a bonanza for investors.

Meanwhile in the equally impoverished nearby country of Togo, teachers have also been on strike, and have also been supported by their students - two of whom were killed in protests earlier this year.