Gabon flag Gabon: Economic outline

Economic Outline

Economic Indicators

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%) and 2022 (+3%). The IMF estimated a marginal slowdown in real GDP growth to 2.8% in 2023. While oil production increased by 3.7%, train derailments hampered production and exports in non-oil sectors, particularly manganese and timber. Growth is forecast at 2.6% and 2.5% in 2024 and 2025, respectively, driven by a temporary surge in oil output, the recovery of mining and forestry industries, and activity in construction.

Gabon's budget surplus rose to around 2.3% of GDP in 2023, up from 1.1% in 2022. The 2024 Draft Finance Law projects increased revenue (+15.7%) and expenditure (+17%) compared to the 2023 Finance Law. Fitch predicts a decline in the fiscal surplus to approximately 1% of GDP. Alongside substantial public investment, the current political transition introduces additional spending pressures in public wages, fuel subsidies, and interest. The potential acquisition of Assala's oil assets may further strain public spending. Fitch Ratings' baseline assumptions anticipate budget surpluses and robust growth, indicating a decline in government debt from 56.0% in 2023 to 52.2% of GDP by 2025 (64.9% and 65.2%, respectively, according to the IMF). However, a significant drop in oil prices could alter this trajectory. Overall, 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). The IMF estimated inflation at 3.8% last year, with an expected decline over the forecast horizon, to 2.5% this year and 2.3% in 2025. Gabon's medium-term growth hinges on economic diversification, particularly in export-oriented non-oil sectors, alongside investments in infrastructure and the establishment of special economic zones.

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 2022, the unemployment rate in the country was at 20.6% (World Bank, ILO estimate). There is also a large gap between economic development in urban and rural populations. Moreover, city rents skyrocketed 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) 3.02.82.62.52.8
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/a3.82.52.32.2
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, 2016

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
CFA Franc (XOF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 GBP 800.68749.15741.42732.38737.93

Source: World Bank, 2015

 

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Latest Update: March 2024

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