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Gabon Economy

    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; yet 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, 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 criticized the government for overspending on off-budget items, overborrowing from the central bank, and slipping on its schedule for privatization and administrative reform. Growth in 1999 will depend mainly on how world oil prices move.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$7.7 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 1.7% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$6,400 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 8%
    industry: 67%
    services: 25% (1997 est.)

    Population below poverty line: NA%

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1% (1998 est.)

    Labor force: NA

    Labor force—by occupation: agriculture 65%, industry and commerce, services

    Unemployment rate: 21% (1997 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—production: 930 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 22.04%
    hydro: 77.96%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 930 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: cocoa, coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber; cattle; okoume (a tropical softwood); fish

    Exports: $2.1 billion (f.o.b., 1998 est.)

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

    Exports—partners: US 67%, China 9%, France 8%, Japan 3% (1997)

    Imports: $890 million (f.o.b., 1998 est.)

    Imports—commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, petroleum products, construction materials

    Imports—partners: France 38%, US 8%, Cameroon 5%, Netherlands 4%, Cote d'Ivoire, Japan (1997)

    Debt—external: $4.1 billion (1997)

    Economic aid—recipient: $331 million (1995)

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

    Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (CFAF) per US$1—577.61 (January 1999), 589.95 (1998), 583.67 (1997), 511.55 (1996), 499.15 (1995), 555.20 (1994)

    Fiscal year: calendar year

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)