Gabon Economy Facts
Gabon is rich in oil, timber and minerals. The country has one of the highest incomes per inhabitant of sub-Saharan Africa. However, prosperity is mainly a small group of Gabonese people. Most of the residents live on cultivation for their own use or other jobs in the informal sector. Income from natural wealth also varies greatly with the state of the world economy.
In the latter part of the 1990s, Gabon faced increasing financial problems with large deficits in the state budget. This was mainly due to the falling price of oil, which gives the country just over 80 percent of its export income, but also to an overly large public sector, investments in expensive prestige projects such as the construction of the Transgabonese railway from the inland to the coast – “the world’s most expensive railway line”, mismanagement of state-owned enterprises and corruption. Behind the previously good growth lay a rapid exploitation of the country’s natural resources and favorable investment conditions for foreign companies through low taxes and good opportunities to make profits.
- Countryaah.com: Major imports by Gabon, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.
The economic problems continued during the early 2000s as production in the large oil fields began (see Natural Resources and Energy). High oil prices in 2004 and 2005 gave the government a temporary respite and growth increased. Gabon also managed to negotiate amortization on its large foreign debt, which was established during the good years.
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including GAB which represents the country of Gabon. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about Gabon.
In order to overcome the problems caused by Gabon’s dependence on oil as its main source of income, and the fluctuations in the world market price of oil, President Ali Ben Bongo, who in 2009 took over his father’s power, has tried to accelerate the economic reforms in the country. Already in the 1990s, Gabon, in collaboration with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had begun a series of austerity measures and other measures, including privatization of state-owned enterprises and cuts in the public sector, but the changes were slow.
At the end of 2012, the government presented a long-term plan for Gabon’s economic development, PSGE (Plan stratégique Gabon émergent) with the aim, until 2025, to make the country less dependent on oil by investing in ten economic centers around the country. Added to this were proposed investments in infrastructure, including better access to energy and water, education and a sustainable environment. The investments would be made by the state together with international institutions and private companies.
The dependence on the oil, which accounts for half of the state’s income, is great. Growth was good in the early 2010s when oil prices soared. Declining oil sources, reduced demand for oil abroad due to the crisis in the world economy and more than half the world market price of oil from 2014 led to a slowdown in the economy. The government was forced to cut the budget for 2015 by more than 11 percent. Among other things, this has affected small and medium-sized companies, who have had to wait to get paid from their largest customer – the state.
To this was added the many and long strikes carried out in many sectors and sometimes paralyzed the country (see Labor market). The world’s willingness to invest in Gabon was also hampered by uncertainty over the upcoming presidential election in 2016 (see Current Policy). Most analysts, however, agree that Gabon, with its many resources, has good opportunities to cope with the crisis at least in the long run.
FACTS – FINANCE
GDP per person
US $ 8,030 (2018)
US $ 17 017 million (2018)
1.2 percent (2018)
Agriculture’s share of GDP
5.3 percent (2017)
Manufacturing industry’s share of GDP
17.6 percent (2017)
The service sector’s share of GDP
42.6 percent (2017)
3.0 percent (2019)
Government debt’s share of GDP
60.7 percent (2018)
US $ 6 166 million (2017)
Central African Franc
US $ 5,113 million (2015)
US $ 3,171 million (2015)
US $ 141 million (2015)
Commodity trade’s share of GDP
55 percent (2018)
Main export goods
Largest trading partner
France, USA, China
The president’s party wins the election
President Bongo’s party Gabon’s Democratic Party (PDG) wins the parliamentary election. PDG receives 82 of the 120 seats and support parties to PDG receive 17 seats.