Located in Central Africa, Gabon boasts a wealth of natural resources. With a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo. Despite its vast, mainly forested surface area, Gabon only had 2.3 million inhabitants in 2021.
Gabon's level of urbanization is one of the highest in Africa, with over 80% of its population living in urban areas. The two main cities, Libreville and Port-Gentil are home to almost 59% of the population. Youth is a distinctive feature of its demography: half the population is under 20, and while the fertility rate in urban areas is four children per woman, it climbs to six in rural areas.
An ecological pioneer, Gabon actively protects its tropical forest, making it a net carbon absorber and championing carbon neutrality initiatives. Its diverse ecosystem offers fertile soils, abundant coastal resources, and fisheries. However, despite its economic potential, the country is struggling to translate its wealth of resources into sustainable, inclusive growth.
Following a military coup carried out by the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI) on August 30, 2023, that deposed former President Ali Bongo Ondimba, General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, the Commander of the Republican Guard, was sworn in as the Transitional President before the CTRI and members of the constitutional court.
In an extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Heads of Government held on September 4, 2023, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) suspended Gabon’s membership until the restoration of the constitutional order in the country.
The transition will be governed by the Transition Charter and the Constitution of March 26, 1991. The transition charter calls for the development of a new Constitution and its adoption through a referendum, and the organization of free, democratic, and transparent local and national elections. The transition authorities have set the duration of this transition to two years.
In 2022, Gabon's economy benefited from higher oil prices and solid commodity production. Growth reached 3.1%, reflecting a significant recovery from the 2020 recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and fluctuations in oil prices. The rise in oil prices, combined with increased production, generated substantial revenues for the country, transforming a budget deficit of 1.9% of GDP in 2021 into a surplus of 3.0% of GDP in 2022.
Economic recovery in 2022 reduced the ratio of public debt to GDP from 60.7% in 2021 to 52% in 2022. Although export performance has improved the trade balance, challenges such as cash management problems and the accumulation of arrears persist, posing risks for future debt management. In addition, high world food and energy prices have led to inflation, rising from 1.1% in 2021 to 4.3% in 2022. This inflation has impacted living conditions, despite an overall reduction in poverty thanks to the economic recovery.
The recent coup d'état has introduced uncertainty into the country's economic outlook. Prior to this event, growth of 2.8% was expected for 2023-2025, driven by several sectors, including manganese, timber and oil palm. Gabon, recently dependent on regional financial markets, could see its growth and financing capacities affected. Repayment of arrears and sound reforms could nevertheless ease the country's financing costs.
Last Updated: Feb 08, 2024