Gabon - Country Commercial Guide
Market Challenges

Learn about barriers to market entry and local requirements, i.e., things to be aware of when entering the market for this country.

Last published date: 2022-08-10

Doing business in Gabon presents well-known challenges that the government is addressing with mixed results.  Business development is challenging due to excessive bureaucracy, corruption, an absence of a clearly established and consistent process for companies to enter the market, high production costs, a small domestic market, rigid labor laws and work visa requirements, limited and poor infrastructure, outdated laws and regulations, a cumbersome judicial system, and inconsistent application of customs regulations.  In addition, Libreville has the second highest cost of living in Africa, according to Mercer in July 2022.  A preponderance of French companies (this is changing) dominate the country’s business sector, where knowledge of French language and culture is a necessity in doing business.  The government, however, is pursuing an effort to make Gabon a more multilingual country by encouraging English as a second language. 

While improving in 2022, economic conditions in Gabon weakened throughout 2020 and into 2021 as the government adjusted its budget to account for protracted low oil prices, lower demand for oil, and the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.  Many international companies, including U.S. firms, continue to have difficulties collecting timely payments from the Gabonese government, and some companies in the oil sector have closed operations. 

The economy remains heavily dependent on the extractive industries, such as those found in the oil, manganese, and timber sectors.  Gabon’s dependence on the export of raw materials leaves it vulnerable to external factors that influence price. 

Gabon’s lack of sufficient modern infrastructure, such as all-weather roads connecting major economic centers, makes doing business across the country costly and time-consuming, especially in more remote areas outside of Libreville.