The President’s reform plan for an emerging Gabon focuses on building infrastructure, sustainable development, and growth of Gabon’s resources and manufacturing sectors. The goal here is to diversify an economy that largely depends on the petroleum industry for revenue growth.
Gabon is located in the Gulf of Guinea in Africa, and its population is approximately 2.2 million. On February 17, 2021, the Prime Minister of Gabon signed a decree under which, Gabon created 20 task forces to implement priority reforms of its Transformation Acceleration Plan (PAT, 2021-2023).
As part of this program, the Minister of Investment Promotion launched the task force, and the goal was to strengthen the competitiveness of the regulatory and fiscal framework. It will support the development of various private and export sectors, based on the following activities:
- Relaunching meetings of the various departments in the High Council for Investment (HCI)
- Strengthening the attraction and competition of the regulatory framework for priority sectors
- Review the parafiscal system
- Digitization of administrative investment procedures
- Dissemination of processes for validating investment projects
- Support programs for SMEs/SMIs
- Facilitating the access to economic land
Gabon’s large industries include petroleum, minerals, timber, and more. Also, it is the fifth-largest oil producer in Africa and has had the strongest economic growth over the past few decades, driven by its production of oil and manganese. The oil sector has reported 80% of exports, 45% of GDP, and 60% of fiscal revenue over the past five years.
The government has plans to diversify the economy away from its dwindling oil reserves. After all, 80% of Gabonese live in cities out of which, 59% of the total population live in the capital city, Libreville. As a result, other parts of the country are partially populated, and many regions remain highly forested.
Diverse Industries to invest in Gabon’s Sustainable Development
The Gabon economy is heavily reliant on its natural resources with the leading industries like agriculture, forestry, petroleum, tourism, mining, and more. Let’s dive deeper to understand all the major Gabon industrial sectors.
Gabon offers an extensive forest cover of approx. 77% of the total land area for a very long time. The Forest industry has supplied many life necessities, food, and shelter to the country. Gabon’s forest is home to more than 400 different species of plants, and 100 varieties can serve industrial purposes.
Forestry plays a significant role in the country until 1968, when crude oil helped Gabon earn more than foreign exchanges. It has been the region’s leader in the export of wood, and the sales accounted for about 20% of raw wood exports. Also, the forest industry is the second most crucial sector after petroleum in export earnings. Gabon produces some world-famous hardwood trees like mahogany, ebony, kevazingo, tigerwood, movingui, and Zangana.
The Government of Gabon also promotes reforestation and carries out selective thinning, which helped the Okoume tree species from getting over-exploited. Around 50 companies explore forests in Gabon, and the government has granted concessions of forest exploitation covering approx. 19,000 square miles. Read more.
The oil industry
Gabon gained its independence in 1960, and the oil industry plays a great contributing role to the country’s GDP followed by the petroleum industry, which also plays a significant role over the years. It is estimated that about 1.9% of Gabon’s land area gets utilized for agriculture and accounts for 8% of the total GDP in the country.
The Government of Gabon has facilitated its effort to diversify and increase the agricultural output while establishing various demonstration farms. There are several experimental stations and cooperatives to consolidate the rural farmers. Gabon produced significant quantities of palm oil, and today, the country owns about 18,500 acres of palm oil plantations found in the regions like Lambarene.
Palm oil produced by Gabon recorded about 6,430 tonnes in 2004, and rubber was grown in an area of approx. 10,600 acres of land. Today, the numbers exceeded 100,000 tonnes and 15,859 post-COVID, respectively. Also, animal husbandry in Gabon is limited due to the infestation of the tsetse fly. Although, in recent years some tsetse fly-resistant cows were imported from Senegal for a cattle project in the country.
The traditional fishing methods account for about two-thirds of the total fish catch in Gabon. Although there have been some major improvements in the fishing industry, it is relatively underdeveloped. The waters along the Gabonese coastal on the Gulf of Guinea have a large number of fish, which is estimated to support a total of about 15,000 tons of tuna and more than 12,000 tons of sardines every year.
Initially, fishing fleets were mainly found in Libreville, but various ports were built particularly at Port Gentil, which is the center of industrial fleet operations in Gabon. The government has planned for a fishmeal factory, refrigerated storage facilities, and a cannery. The year 2003 recorded 44,855 tons of total fish catch in Gabon out of which 80% of the production was held from the Atlantic Ocean.
Gabon also offers an exclusive economic zone, which extends to about 200 miles into the ocean, and no foreign entity is allowed to fish in the area without the government’s approval. Learn more.
Gabon offers a vast mineral deposit and has the richest French colonies in Africa. Besides oil, which contributes about 80% of the exports, Gabon has the largest Manganese deposit in the world and is the 4th largest producer of minerals.
From high-grade manganese to minerals, there are over 250 million tons of manganese reserves, and their metal content is between 48% to 52%. Moanda mine, near Franceville, produces about 2.5 million tons yearly and is estimated to continue producing for the next 100 years. Other minerals discovered in Gabon include diamonds, zinc, lead, iron ore, uranium, phosphate, niobium, potash, marble, and more.
Some of these high-demand minerals are commercially exploited and have increased the profits accruing from the foreign companies extracting the minerals in the country.
Investment Opportunities for Overseas Investors
Arise IIP is located in Gabon with the Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ) and has vowed to contribute to the development of highly competitive economies and equitable communities for tomorrow. Together, we can help Africa achieve greater income equity and sustainable growth.
Are you planning to invest in the major industries of Gabon? We are excited to hear about your investment plans!