Gabon being the fifth largest oil producer in Africa has experienced strong economic growth over the past decade mainly driven by oil and manganese production. On average, over the past five years, the oil sector has accounted for 80% of exports, 45% of GDP, and 60% of budget revenue. From 2013 Gabon was hit hard by the lower oil prices. Hydrocarbons’ share of GDP fell from 43.7% in 2013 to 35.7% in 2014, while its share of total state revenues in terms of GDP is estimated at 12.8% in 2014 and is expected to fall below 10% in 2015, according African Development Bank. Gabon’s GDP growth rate slowed down to 3.9% in 2015 despite increased production from 80 to 87 million barrels between 2014 and 2015. In July 2012 launched a Strategic Plan for an Emerging Gabon (PSGE / Plan Strategique Gabon Emergent) for developing Gabon into an emerging economy by 2025 through diversifying the country away from its reliance on energy exports and transforming Gabon into an internationally competitive investment destination.
Why invest in Gabon?
- The country is endowed with natural resources including oil producer, manganese, iron ore, gold, lead, zinc, copper, diamonds, niobium and titanium.
- Gabon has been overtime a stable country
- The country has a democratic system of governance.
- The country has a liberalized economy
The Gabonese Democratic Party (Parti démocratique gabonais or PDG) dominates the political landscape. Omar Bongo held the presidency from 1968 to 2009, and his son, Ali Bongo Ondimba, won the presidential elections in August 2009. PDG competed in both the municipal and departmental elections held in December 2013, and the Senate election held in December 2014. Still, all these elections were won by the party in power. The elections of 2016 that were followed by political turmoil were confirmed by the Constitutional Court confirmed to have been won President Ali Bongo. The government is the process of finding peaceful of resolving the political issues.
According to the 2013 census, Gabon had a population of 1.8 million and estimated population growth rate stands at 1.92% in 2016.
According to the census of 2013, about 87.1% of the population of Gabon live in urban areas with estimated average annual urbanization rate of 2.7% for the period from. 2010 to 2015.
Doing business in Gabon
The highlights of World Bank score of doing business in Gabon are summarised as follows;
|Topics||World Bank 2017 Rank||World Bank 2016 Rank||Change in Rank|
|Starting a Business||152||144||
|Dealing with Construction Permits||167||164||
|Protecting Minority Investors||158||157||
|Trading across Borders||166||165||
Standard & Poor’s credit rating for Gabon stands at B with stable outlook. Moody’s credit rating for Gabon was last set at B1 with negative outlook. Fitch’s credit rating for Gabon was last reported at B+ with negative outlook
There are no legal restrictions on converting or transferring funds associated with an investment, including the inflow or outflow of funds for remittances of investment capital, earnings, profits, etc. CEMAC regulations require banks to record and report the identity of customers engaging in transactions over USD 10,000. Additionally, financial institutions must maintain records of large transactions for five years.
Gabon is a member state to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID Convention) and a signatory to convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958 New York Convention). Gabon is also a party to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and OHADA, which provides an International Court of Justice and Arbitration (CCJA) common to its 16 member countries for the settlement of conflicts related to business law implementation.
Key development challenges
- Unresolved political issues
- Unskilled workforce
- Inadequate infrastructure
Gabon is number 101 least corrupt nation out of 175 countries and scored 35 points out of 100 according to the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.
The security situation has not normalised following the 2016 disputed elections. Visitors are advised to avoid large political public gatherings including peaceful demonstrations.
Unemployment and skilled labour
According to World Bank report 2015 one in every five members of the labour force is now unemployed. The unemployment rate is 35.7% for young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and 26% for the labour force aged 25 to 34.
Attitude to Foreign Direct Investment
Gabon’s government is keen at attracting foreign direct investment. The Investment Promotion Agency (ANPI-Gabon) has been established to promote investments and exports, support small and medium-sized enterprises, manage public-private partnerships, and facilitate investors.
Restrictions on Foreign investment
There are no limits on foreign ownership or control except activities reserved for the state.
Intellectual Property (IP) Rights.
Gabon is a member of Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and adheres to the laws of the African Intellectual Property Office (OAPI). Gabon acceded to a number of international agreements on patents and intellectual property, including the Paris Convention, the Berne Convention and the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization. As a member of WTO, Gabon is also a signatory of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
Gabon’s national parks include Akanda National Park, Batéké Plateau National Park, Birougou National Park, Crystal Mountains National Park, Ivindo National Park, Loango National Park, Lopé National Park, Mayumba National Park, Minkébé National Park, Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, Mwangné National Park, Pongara National Park, Waka National Park.
Gas, timber, oil, manganese, iron, gold, silver, diamonds, niobium, phosphates, lead, zinc, baryte and talc
Investment Climate in Gabon has been summarized to include the following;
Sources of information