Economy in Gabon

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Economy—overview: Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most nations of sub-Saharan Africa. This has supported a sharp decline in extreme poverty but because of high income inequality a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for 50% of GDP. Gabon continues to face fluctuating prices for its oil timber manganese and uranium exports. Despite the abundance of natural wealth and a manageable rate of population growth the economy is hobbled by poor fiscal management. In 1992 the fiscal deficit widened to 2.4% of GDP and Gabon failed to settle arrears on its bilateral debt leading to a cancellation of rescheduling agreements with official and private creditors. Devaluation of its Francophone currency by 50% on 12 January 1994 sparked a one-time inflationary surge to 35%; the rate dropped to 6% in 1996. The IMF provided a one-year standby arrangement in 1994-95 and a three-year Enhanced Financing Facility (EFF) at near commercial rates beginning in late 1995. Those agreements mandate progress in privatization and fiscal discipline. France provided additional financial support in January 1997 after Gabon had met IMF targets for mid-1996. In 1997 an IMF mission to Gabon chastened the government for overspending on off-budget items overborrowing from the central bank and slipping on its schedule for privatization and administrative reform (such as reduced public sector employment and salary growth).

GDP: purchasing power parity—$6 billion (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 3% (1996 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$5 000 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:

agriculture: 7.1%

industry: 54.6%

services: 38.3% (1996)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 6.2% (1996 est.)

Labor force: NA

by occupation: agriculture 65% industry and commerce services

Unemployment rate: 10%-14% (1993 est.)

Budget:

revenues: $1.5 billion

expenditures: $1.3 billion including capital expenditures of $302 million (1996 est.)

Industries: food and beverage; textile; lumbering and plywood; cement; petroleum extraction and refining; manganese uranium and gold mining; chemicals; ship repair

Industrial production growth rate: 2.3% (1995)

Electricity—capacity: 310 000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 925 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 800 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: cocoa coffee sugar palm oil; rubber; okoume (a tropical softwood); cattle; small fishing operations (provide a catch of about 30 000 metric tons)

Exports:

total value: $3.1 billion (f.o.b. 1996 est.)

commodities: crude oil 81% timber 12% manganese 5% uranium (1996)

partners: US 50% France 16% Japan 8% China Spain Germany (1996)

Imports:

total value: $969 million (f.o.b. 1996 est.)

commodities: machinery and equipment foodstuffs chemicals petroleum products construction materials

partners: France 39% Cote d'Ivoire 13% US 6% Netherlands 5% Japan

Debt—external: $3.9 billion (1996)

Economic aid: $NA

Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: CFA francs (CFAF) per US$1—608.36 (January 1998) 583.67 (1997) 511.55 (1996) 499.15 (1995) 555.20 (1994) 283.16 (1993)

note: beginning 12 January 1994 the CFA franc was devalued to CFAF 100 per French franc from CFAF 50 at which it had been fixed since 1948

Fiscal year: calendar year

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