Gabon flag Gabon: Economic and Political Overview

The economic context of Gabon

Economic Indicators

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Heavily dependent on the oil sector and on food imports, the Gabonese economy is vulnerable to global fluctuations in commodity prices. After contracting in 2020 due to the joint effects of declining demand for oil, decreasing oil prices and the pandemic-related containment measures, GDP growth started to recover in 2021 (1.5%). Economic recovery continued in 2022, GDP growth reaching 2.7%, driven by higher oil prices, a booming mining sector, and the rebound in the wood, construction and services sectors (IMF). According to IMF forecast, GDP growth is expected to accelerate to 3.7% in 2023 and 2024, still supported by oil exports.

In 2022, the Gabonese economy continued to recover from the 2020 recession, owing to strong policy response to the pandemic and the rise in oil prices. Russia’s war in Ukraine and related surge in commodity prices contributed to boost oil exports and revenues, improve the fiscal and external positions and reduce public debt. Due to the comfortable royalties generated by high oil prices, better mobilisation of non-oil revenues and control of current expenditure, Gabon recorded a budget surplus of 1.2% GDP in 2022, which is forecast to be maintained in 2023 (3% GDP) (IMF, Coface). Public debt dropped from 65.8% GDP in 2021 to 54% GDP in 2022, and it is expected to further decrease to 52.4% GDP in 2023 and 49.3% GDP in 2024 (IMF). Public debt is mostly external (60% of the total) and held by multilateral (mainly the IMF and the World Bank) and bilateral (France, China, etc.) creditors (Coface). In the context of the war in Ukraine, inflation increased from 1.1% in 2021 to 3.5% in 2022 (IMF). It is expected to slightly decrease to 3.2% in 2023 and 2.5% in 2024 (IMF). The pegging of the CFA franc to the euro helps to containing inflationary pressures (Coface). In July 2021, Gabon concluded a three-year fiscal consolidation programme with the IMF, through an extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), and the Gabonese authorities are still focused on fiscal and governance reforms to support economic recovery and enhance debt sustainability. The 2023 budget aims at implementing the Plan for the acceleration of economic transformation (PAT), as well as supporting education, health, water, energy and infrastructure. The Strategic Plan for Food Sovereignty is designed to decrease food imports. To revert dependence on raw materials and lack of economic diversification, Gabon seeks to revive its agricultural sector (cocoa, coffee, and palm oil). The country is also planning to develop tourism, and particularly eco-tourism, to take advantage of its forest heritage. Gabon has also launched a broad public investment program (PSGE) to become one of the fastest-growing economies by 2025. Among the challenges identified by the IMF, addressing structural reforms, including governance and corruption issues, enhancing the banking sector and implementing an effective financial inclusion strategy, preserving debt sustainability and protecting the most vulnerable are key priorities.

Gabon is classified as an upper-middle-income country with a GDP per capita above its neighbors. However, social indicators lag behind the country's wealth. A third of the population lives below the poverty line (nearly 5% live on less than a dollar and a half every day) and unemployment is very high. In 2021, the unemployment rate in the country was at 21.8% (World Bank, ILO estimate). There is also a large gap between economic development in urban and rural populations. Moreover, city rents exploded as a result of the exodus from rural areas to cities (four major cities house more than 85% of Gabon's population).

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 21.1219.3219.8520.4121.14
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 9,7718,8328,9699,1169,339
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 57.764.964.565.266.8
Inflation Rate (%) n/a3.
Current Account (billions USD) 0.34-0.16-0.41-0.72-0.96
Current Account (in % of GDP) 1.6-0.8-2.1-3.5-4.5

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Main Sectors of Industry

Gabon is rich in natural resources. It is Africa’s second largest wood producer and the fourth oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa. The agricultural sector accounted for an estimated 6% of Gabon's GDP in 2021 (World Bank), employing 30% of the workforce. Gabon has 22 million hectares of forest, one million hectares of arable agricultural land and over 800 kilometers of coastline. The sector includes food crops, rubber (especially in the north), and palm oil, with the country relying heavily on food imports.

Industry contributes to 50.9% of the country's GDP and around 11% of total employment (World Bank). The sector is dominated by petroleum, manganese mining, and timber processing. Hydrocarbons account for 50% of Gabon’s exports and 38% of its GDP (Coface, US ITA). However, the country is facing a decline in its oil reserves. Other activities include textile plants, cement factories, chemical plants, breweries, shipyards, and cigarette factories. Most industrial establishments are located near Libreville and Port-Gentil.

The services sector accounts for 38.7% of GDP, employing 59% of the active workforce (World Bank). The government is the biggest employer in the sector. Tourism is still embryonic due to poor infrastructures and the country’s landscape mostly covered in forests.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 29.0 16.1 54.9
Value Added (in % of GDP) 5.6 57.4 33.1
Value Added (Annual % Change) 9.5 3.4 2.4

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.


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Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.}}

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

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Latest Update: December 2023

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