Buying and Selling

flag Gabon Gabon: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
International Economic Cooperation
Member of World Trade Organization (WTO)
Member of Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC)
Member of African Union (AU)
Member of Organisation for the Harmonization of Corporate Law in Africa (OHADA)
Non Tariff Barriers
As of 2018, according to the WTO, Gabon had two nontariff measures in force.
Several factors can hinder imports, such as overtaxing of goods; random checkpoints along corridors; highway robbers; and the poor state of major highways and infrastructure.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
As a member of the Customs Union of CEMAC, Gabon adopts the common external tariff (CET), whose most favoured nation simple average is estimated at 18.1% by the WTO. However, the CET is difficult to be applied because members invoke country-specific exceptions and "safeguard" measures. Gabon applies the exceptions to a varied range of product and therefore its average tariff rate is lower than the CET by being 16.9% (Heritage Foundation).
Other import duties and taxes are imposed on the c.i.f. customs value of imported goods. These are the 1% Community integration tax (TCI) collected on behalf of CEMAC, which is applicable to imports originating in non-CEMAC countries; the 0.4% ECCAS Community integration contribution (CCI), applicable to imports originating in non-ECCAS countries; the fee for use of the customs ADP system (RUSID), which is proportional to the amount of time actually spent on the system; and the 0.05% OHADA levy. A scanning fee may also apply.

Customs Classification
Gabon is a member of the World Customs Organisation and does comply with the harmonised customs system.
Import Procedures
All importers must obtain a "fiche circuit" (trader's card) issued by the Single Window Service in the Enterprise Development Centre (CDE).
When importing in Gabon, an import declaration (DPI) issued by the Directorate responsible for external trade is required. In addition, payments in respect of imports with a FOB value of XOF 5,000,000 or more must be domiciled with an approved bank.
All imports must be the subject of a "detailed declaration" accompanied by:

  • the original invoice;
  • the bill of lading;
  • the packing list (including a full description of the contents of the shipment);
  • the insurance certificate;
  • the cargo identification note (BIC) issued by the Gabonese Shippers' Council (with fees varying according to the origin of the imports;
  • the certificate of origin (the EUR 1 form for products of European Union origin)

Further certificates may be required: for agrifood products, a certificate stating that they are free of radioactive contamination; a phytosanitary certificate for products of plant origin; and a sanitary certificate for products of animal origin.
The duties and taxes are paid either by means of a clearing credit or by direct payment (in cash or by certified bank cheque).
The average clearance time is estimated in 24 hours after the customs declaration, accompanied by all the required documentation, has been submitted.

With regards to its Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issue, Gabon is following the standard set by the World Health Organization, the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and several other African and global conventions. Gabon does not address SPS as a barrier to trade, as it applies the same sanitary rules to all food products, whether produced domestically, imported from abroad, or intended for export.
For reasons of sanitary protection, a sanitary or phytosanitary certificate, as appropriate, must be obtained for imports of a list of food and pharmaceutical products
All perishable foodstuffs, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products sold must also bear a label in French showing their origin, their use-by date and the specification of the substances used.

Importing Samples
Samples can generally be imported duty-free. After their use, they must be re-exported or destroyed, with the process being certified by a custom agent.
For Further Information
Gabon Customs
Ministry of Commerce
Business Portal for Africa

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
Gabon has a population of around 2.13 million people, with a GDP per capita estimated at USD 8,600 by the IMF (2021). The living standard is generally higher than the regional levels, and the country is classified as upper-middle-income by the World Bank. The Gabonese consumers are relatively young: according to data by the CIA, the proportion of children below the age of 14 is 36.45%, 21.9% of the population is between 15 and 24, 32.48% between 25 and 54, while only 9.1% are 55 or older; and it is equally split between men and women (2020 est.).
The population density is relatively low, however, most of the people are concentrated in urban areas (especially in the capital Libreville): about 89.7% of the population are urban dwellers (World Bank, 2019 latest data available), also thanks to the fact the most of the country's territory is covered with rainforests. Though the GDP per capita is almost quadruple than that of most African countries, purchasing power is concentrated, with around-one third of the population live below the poverty line (CIA World Factbook, latest data available).
Consumer Behaviour
Generally, price is the main purchasing factor for Gabonese consumers. However, the country has one of the highest income per capita and there is a middle class - comprised mainly of governmental employees - that is growing and whose tastes are more sophisticated: while still paying attention to the price, they prefer to have a wider range of choice. Proximity and availability are also important aspects of the Gabonese consumer purchasing habits (Gabon is the country in Sub-Saharan Africa with the highest rate of population living in urban areas). Most of the household spending is destined for food and basic needs, and the majority of products commercialized in the country are imported. According to Coface’s report on Sub-Saharan Africa, Gabon is the country with the highest potential in terms of the household consumption market in the area.
The high-end products’ market has been growing in recent years (for example, Gabon is the third-largest importer of champagne in Africa, and according to data by the WHO the country is also the main consumer of beer in the whole continent).
Consumers Associations
General Department of Competition and Consumption
Main Advertising Agencies
Buzz GooGa

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
There are currently no accurate figures about the size of the retail market in Gabon. Supermarkets started developing in the 1990s, and though informal channels like open-air markets, convenience stores and kiosks still dominate the market, modern retailers (both African and international) have been growing over the last decade. According to the agency in charge for the implementation of the Emerging Gabon strategic plan, in fact, the global turnover of the retail sector increased by 80% between 2009 and 2015, with investments reaching XOF 93,6 billion. The Gabonese market is attractive for several reasons: rising incomes should increase household spending capacity, the competitive pressures are not too strong yet, the demand for imported products is growing (the vast majority of food products consumed in Gabon are imported).
The formal sector is dominated by three groups: Ceca-Gadis, Prix Import, and Sodigab. The largest share of retail sales and outlet is concentrated in Libreville and Port-Gentil. Ceca-Gadis in particular is the fourth African private group of the retail sector and the first one in Gabon.
Market share

Supermarket chains in Gabon include:

  • Casino Supermarkets
  • Géant Casino-Mbolo
  • Prix Import
  • San Gel
  • Score
  • SuperGros
  • Viga Supermarkets
Retail Sector Organisations
Confédération Patronale du Gabon (CPG)

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Internet access
According to the Digital 2019 report for Gabon by Hootsuite and WeAreSocial, out of a population of 2.1 million people, 48% have access to the internet. The country has a reliable and not expensive internet service, and is the sixth most-connected country on the African continent (ICT). Gabon has recently developed an expanded fibre-optic network (with the support of the World Bank). 
In the country there are around 3 million mobile subscriptions, and 35% of the population are active social media users (and 93% of them login via mobile). The main mobile operators are Airtel, Gabon Telecom, Azur, Libertis and Moov.
The most popular web search engines in Gabon are Google (94.7%), Bing and Yahoo (2.8% and 1.9% respectively).
E-commerce market
E-commerce is still in its infancy in Gabon, as the country lacks the ICT and online payment infrastructures necessary to boost such sector.
According to the Digital 2019 report for Gabon by Hootsuite and WeAreSocial, 17% of the population purchases on the internet or pays its bills online, while only 5.9% of the population has a credit card.
Data from the B2C e-commerce index of the UN Conference on Trade and Development estimate that only 6% of the population shops online. However, the index ranks Gabon 104th out of 151 countries and 12th in the African continent for its readiness and capacity to support online trade.
Among the factors that hinder the growth of e-commerce there are logistic problems (due to the country’s territory and the poor infrastructure, especially outside bigger towns), a lack of confidence when purchasing online and the low penetration of online payment methods. In fact, almost the totality of online transactions are paid with cash on delivery, with a smaller share consisting of pick-up and payment in a showroom or physical shop. The main online payment services are those related with mobile phones, like Airtel money, Bicig Mobile, Mobicash, etc..
En effet, outre l’Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des postes (ARCEP), le Gabon s’est doté d’une Commission nationale de protection des données à caractère personnel (CNPDCP), autorité indépendante.
Among the main online platforms in the country are Gaboma Market, Enami, iShop241, BiaBia Market.
Facebook has an estimated 720,000 users, Linkedin 110,000 and Instagram 83,000. Companies are increasingly using Facebook or other social media for advertising.

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Organizing Goods Transport

Port Gentil (GAPOG)
Libreville (GALBV)
Owendo (GAOWE)
Léon-Mba International Airport (LBV)
Port-Gentil International Airport (POG)
Sea Transport Organisations
Air Transport Organisations
National Agency for Civil Aviation
Road Transport Organisations
Ministry for Transports and Logistics
Rail Transport Organisations
Ministry for Transports and Logistics

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
According to data by the World Bank, the agricultural sector accounts for 5.2% of Gabon’s GDP, the main crops being rubber, palm oil, sugar and coffee. Industry contributes 45.3% of the country's GDP, with the sector being dominated by petroleum, manganese mining, and timber processing. The tertiary sector accounts for nearly half of GDP (49.5%).

To search directories by industry in Gabon, check out our service Business Directories.

Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Ministry of Commerce
General Professional Associations
Confédération Patronale du Gabon (CPG)

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Latest Update: April 2024