Economic and Political Overview

flag Gabon Gabon: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response


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) 21.0820.5221.0121.1021.43
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 9,7529,2909,3089,1489,095
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 63.670.573.178.984.6
Inflation Rate (%)
Current Account (billions USD) 2.200.860.840.630.46
Current Account (in % of GDP)

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

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 accounts for an estimated 5.6% of Gabon's GDP (World Bank, latest data available), employing 26% 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 57.4% of the country's GDP and around 16% of total employment (World Bank). The sector is dominated by petroleum, manganese mining, and timber processing. Hydrocarbons account for 80% of Gabon’s exports and almost half of its GDP (Coface, U.S. 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. Overall, the manufacturing sector is estimated to account for 23% of GDP.

The services sector accounts for 33.2% of GDP, employing 55% 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. Gabon's banking system includes one development bank, the Gabonese Development Bank (BGD), and five main commercial banks. The International Gabonese and French Bank (BGFI) is the principal bank in Gabon and the largest financial group in the CEMAC zone.

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.


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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
CFA Franc (XOF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 16.6816.8816.3816.5014.63

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


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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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Foreign Trade in Figures

Foreign trade accounts for 73% of the country's GDP (World Bank, latest data available). Customs duties are relatively high, and some other non-tariff barriers also exist, aiming to protect the local industries. Gabonese exports remain heavily focused on traditional sectors such as oil, manganese, and timber. In 2021, petroleum accounted for 67% of exports, timber for 15%, and manganese for 10% (data French Ministry of Economy). Imports are led by boats, machinery, electrical machinery, vehicles, meat and other food products, mineral fuels, iron, cereals, pharmaceutical products, and plastics (ITC).

Gabonese exports are subject to market fluctuations and the euro/dollar exchange rate differential. Despite experiencing a 28% decrease in 2021, Asia, with China leading, remained the top export destination, accounting for 33% of exports (XAF 1066 billion). India surged to become the country's second-largest customer, with purchases increasing significantly (XAF 478 billion, +263%). Europe captured 23% of Gabon's sales, up 44% from 2020, primarily led by Italy (7%) and the Netherlands (6%). In terms of imports, France remained the top supplier with a stable market share in 2021, at 25%. However, French sales to Gabon decreased by 4%. The ranking of suppliers remained stable with Belgium as the 2nd supplier (12% of imports), closely followed by China (11%). China was thus the top customer and the 3rd supplier of the country, and with 27% of Gabon's total trade, it by far constituted the country's leading trading partner (data French Ministry of Economy).

Gabon’s trade balance is structurally in surplus, thanks to the revenues generated by oil exports. In 2022, total exports of goods amounted to USD 9.2 billion while total imports reached USD 4.6 billion, resulting in a comfortable trade surplus (WTO). On the side of services, Gabon’s service export amounted to USD 201 million while its services import cost USD 1.6 billion (WTO). The overall trade balance for goods and services was estimated to be positive by 44.8% of GDP in 2022 by the World Bank.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 2,5383,4843,6465,1326,100
Exports of Goods (million USD) 6,7227,3458,0319,0767,700
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,8791,3911,4441,617n/a
Exports of Services (million USD) 285135199201n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 25.5-
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 14.010.0-2.07.4n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 22.022.616.616.6n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 51.447.555.561.4n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 73.470.172.178.0n/a

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data


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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministry of Economy
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Labour
Ministry of Health
Statistical Office
Directorate General for Statistics
Central Bank
Bank of Central African States
Stock Exchange
Regional Securities Exchange
Search Engines
Google Gabon
YellowPages of Africa
Economic Portals
Fortune of Africa Gabon

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
Transitional President Gen. Brice OLIGUI Nguema assumed office on September 4, 2023, following a coup led by him and a military group known as the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions on August 30, 2023. This coup resulted in the arrest and detention of President Ali BONGO Ondimba, the cancellation of election results, and the dissolution of state institutions. Gen. OLIGUI was officially sworn in as the transitional president on September 4, 2023.
Next Election Dates
Presidential: August 2025
Senate: August 2025
National Assembly: August 2025
Main Political Parties
Gabon is a multy-party state, though the Gabonese Democratic Party is the one that holds the power. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power. Opposition parties include:
- Restoration of Republican Values (RV)
- The Democrats (LD).

Following the 2023 military coup, all the members of the Transitional Parliament appointed by the Transitional president.
Type of State
Officially a democratic republic, the country is led by a military junta since the 2023 coup.
Executive Power
The legislative power is vested in the president, who is also the head of State. The president is elected for a seven-year term and has the power to appoint the prime minister. The Council of Ministers is appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president.
Note: Transitional President Gen. Brice OLIGUI Nguema assumed office on September 4, 2023, following a coup led by him and a military group known as the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions on August 30, 2023. This coup resulted in the arrest and detention of President Ali BONGO Ondimba, the cancellation of election results, and the dissolution of state institutions. Gen. OLIGUI was officially sworn in as the transitional president on September 4, 2023.
Legislative Power

The legislative power is vested in the Parliament, which has two chambers: the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale), composed of 120 members, of which 111 members are elected for a five-year term in single-seat constituencies and 9 members appointed by the president; and the Senate (Sénat), composed of 91 members, elected for a six-year term in single-seat constituencies by local and departmental councillors.
Note: Transitional President Gen. Brice OLIGUI Nguema assumed office on September 4, 2023, following a coup led by him and a military group known as the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions on August 30, 2023. This coup resulted in the arrest and detention of President Ali BONGO Ondimba, the cancellation of election results, and the dissolution of state institutions. Gen. OLIGUI was officially sworn in as the transitional president on September 4, 2023.

The composition of the Transitional Parliament, which was previously known as the bicameral Parliament, is as follows:
- the Senate comprises 70 seats, with members appointed by the Transitional president. The term of office for members is not applicable
- the National Assembly consists of 98 seats, with members appointed by the Transitional president. The term of office for members is not applicable.

This structure raises questions about the representativeness and democratic nature of the Transitional Parliament. With members appointed by the Transitional president and unclear terms of office, there are concerns about the accountability and independence of the legislative body. Such a setup could potentially undermine the principles of democracy and popular representation, leaving room for authoritarian tendencies and lack of transparency in governance.


Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Not Free
Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of Gabon, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.


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Latest Update: April 2024