Overview of best prospect sectors, major infrastructure projects, significant government procurements and business opportunities.
Gabon announced its intent to return to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) by December 2021. This commitment was presented by the government to the IMF as one of the pledges of good governance. Gabon’s mineral industry is dominated by the production of manganese and petroleum. In 2021, Gabon was the third largest producer of manganese in the world with annual production of 9.5 million metric tons (mt). The oil sector accounted for 80 percent of exports, 45 percent of GDP, and 60 percent of fiscal revenue.
Gabon’s wood sector production reached 1.5 million cubic meters (m3) in 2021, and the production of plywood units increased by almost 23 percent, to 613,183 m3 by the end of 2021. The authorities are counting on the timber industry for the diversification of the country’s economy and the mobilization of budgetary revenues. On February 2022, the French group Rougier announced the sale in Europe of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified Gabonese Okoumé plywood. The FSC label guarantees ecological and responsible practices in the management of forests, as well as the entire supply chain.
To support local agricultural production, on June 10, 2021, the Gabonese Council of Ministers adopted a bill for the creation of a National Chamber of Agriculture (CNA). Through this bill, the government sought to compel supermarkets and other agri-food companies to obtain supplies from local agricultural producers. The World Bank estimated the value added in Gabon’s agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors to be 6.404 % of GDP in 2020. In 2021, Gabon exported 1 billion Central African Francs (CFA – currency code XAF) of fish and other fishing products, according to data from the General Directorate of Customs and Indirect Rights (DGDDI), a drop of nearly 28 percent from 2020. Gabon imports the bulk of its cereal requirements through commercial channels, with cereal imports accounting for approximately 90 percent of the total cereal utilization. With a population of about 2.3 million, imports of cereals in 2021 were estimated at a slightly below-average level of 171,000 tons, including about 110,000 tons of wheat and 55,000 tons of rice. Gabon is facing escalating agricultural food prices, especially wheat since the war in Ukraine began in February 2022. To keep domestic wheat prices below 25,000 CFA, the government formally budgeted a subsidy of 4,700 CFA ($7.55) per 50-kg bag to the country’s wheat importers, led by France’s Société Meunière et Avicole du Gabon company.
Environment and Eco Tourism:
In June 2021, Norway paid Gabon $17 million under the Central African Forest Initiative to protect its forests. In 2016 and 2017, Gabon demonstrated that it was able to reduce deforestation and lower carbon emissions compared to the previous decade.
Current ecotourism projects focus largely on the country’s network of national parks. Plans to develop ecotourism in the parks began to materialize in 2008, following the creation of the National Agency of National Parks (Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux, ANPN) in 2007. Growth in the segment will depend on the country’s ability to increase access to natural attractions in rural areas. In March 2021, the Gabonese government presented the “African Ecotourism Safari” project to take advantage of the potential of the country’s 13 national parks. The project will contribute to the development of the tourism sector in Gabon, the enhancement of national parks and the promotion of employment while respecting the criteria of sustainable development and profitability. The first high end ecotourism lodges are under construction now by South African and Singaporean investors.