Gabon Economic Outlook
- Estimated at 4.2%, growth remained vigorous in 2015 despite falling hydrocarbon prices, which reduced the country’s tax revenue.
- In 2015 Gabon continued to adopt reforms intended, among others, to streamline the management of performance-related bonuses in public administration.
- The great majority of Gabon’s population (at 1.8 million) is urban; efforts to upgrade housing have been undertaken, as well as measures to stimulate rural areas.
Despite the impact of the fall in hydrocarbon prices, growth remained relatively strong in 2014 at 4.4% and has been estimated at 4.2% in 2015 and projected at 4.5% in 2016. It is projected to continue at a rate higher than 5% until 2020. The economy remains dominated by hydrocarbon production, though manganese production and wood processing still play a major part in it. Gabon needs to diversify its economy, and recent outlooks and projections show non-oil activities on a stronger growth path than hydrocarbons thanks to public policy devised in this direction. Tax revenue fell sharply in 2015 as a result of declining oil prices and a slight drop in oil production
The economic situation has pushed the authorities to accelerate ongoing reform programmes, in particular those intended to streamline performance-related bonuses paid to civil servants, with a view to having greater control over the wage bill and to improve public services. In terms of its operating expenditures, the government has also made important budgetary decisions to keep public investment at 22% of revenue under its “emerging Gabon” strategy plan (Plan stratégique Gabon émergent, PSGE) while maintaining a proactive social policy. The authorities also aim to raise tax revenue by broadening the tax base and modernising procedures for filing and paying taxes.
Gabon is highly urbanised, and its urbanisation level is growing. In 2015, 86% of the population lived in the country’s four big cities: Libreville, Port-Gentil, Franceville and Oyem. The capital, Libreville, has a population of nearly 800 000, or half the total population of Gabon. Outside of urban areas, however, the population density is lower than 2 people per km², which is similar to that of Sahelian desert countries. Housing policies are designed to fight against precarious housing and simplify legislation, while improving the housing stock and sanitation conditions in urban areas. Otherwise, the ambitious ongoing agricultural-development programme, Gabonaise des réalisations agricoles et des initiatives des nationaux engagés (GRAINE), includes developing 3 000 km of tracks leading to plantations, integrating about 1 600 villages into the basic-infrastructure development plan and involving 30 000 families in the formation of agricultural co-operatives. The programme aims to fight against rural-urban migration, promote youth employment, create 15 000 to 20 000 jobs and triple agricultural production. It should have a strong impact on rural housing, because it encourages participants to settle on a reserved farmland area.