Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba
Gabon is one of west coast Africa region’s more stable countries enjoying rich natural resources.
The country sits on the Equator in western Africa. It is bordered by Equatorial Guinea in the northwest, Cameroon in the north and the republic of Congo whose borders stretches from the east to the south of Gabon. The capital, Libreville, along with Port Gentil, the economic capital of the country, is home to 59% of the population.
The chief products of Gabon’s industrial
sector include refined petroleum, chemicals, food and beverages, textiles,
and wood products.
Since the 1970s the Gabonese economy
has been centered on the oil industry, which has provided it with one of the highest per capita incomes in sub-Saharan Africa and accounts for almost 80% of its export income and 50% of its GDP. The country enjoys a per capita income four times that of most nations of sub-Saharan Africa, its reliance on resource extraction industry releasing much of the population from extreme poverty.
Until 1970s Gabon depended on timber
and manganese. The exploitation of forest products and the mining of manganese, which formed the backbone of the economy, became predominant, it still is relatively important today. To conserve the natural resource, its president in 2002 declared that 10% of the country’s territory would be part of its national parks system, of which there are 13 in total, making the system one of the largest proportions of natural parkland in the world.
Gabon is an upper-middle-income country. The fifth largest oil producer in Africa, it has experienced strong economic growth over the past decade, driven in particular by oil and manganese production. In 2015, the oil
sector accounted for 70% of exports, 20% of GDP, and 40% of budget revenue.
However, the country is facing a decline
in its oil reserves. The overall effect is quite significant compared to the level of growth rates that were observed before 2014.
Between 2010 and 2014, the growth rate was around 6 percent, so it has had a significant impact for the Gabonese economy.
The majority of Gabonese workers are
engaged in subsistence farming, with
sugarcane, cassava, plantains, and taro the chief crops. There is also fishing. Gabon’s leading trade partners are the United States and France.
Since the election of President Ali Bongo
Ondimba in September 2009, Gabon has
entered an era of change that is the result of an ambitious policy of political reform.
According to an article published on
http://www.worldbank.org though, despite the
relatively high per capita income ($7,728 in 2015), Gabon’s poverty rate remains high. A 2013 McKinsey report suggests that about 30% of the population remains vulnerable, living with monthly incomes below the
guaranteed minimum wage of FCFA 80,000.
The Gabonese Government organized a
large-scale national consultation, ‘Assises
Sociales’ in 2014 to define Gabon’s human investment strategy (SIHG).
This social policy has three objectives: (i)
assist the most vulnerable populations
(elderly, orphans, disabled), through
integrated social programs; (ii) create
income-generating activities for Gabon’s
poorest and (iii) reduce inequalities in
access to basic public services.
Gabon is committed to diversifying its
economy and becoming an emerging
economic power by 2025 via its sustainable development strategy referred to as Gabon Emergent.