Although a large part of the population is dependent on
agriculture, Gabon's natural resources (mainly oil,
manganese and uranium) are the most influential factors in
the economy. The exploitation of oil, uranium and manganese
deposits as well as rainforests has led to rapid economic
growth. However, fluctuating world market prices of oil in
particular have meant that growth periods have been replaced
by recession and stagnation periods. However, the country's
financial resources are unevenly distributed, which ties
otherwise led to domestic political unrest during the 1990s.
COUNTRYAAH, agricultural production has been stagnant or declining
for a long time. A large part (about 50 percent) of the
country's working population is employed in self-sustaining
agriculture. However, the state has in recent years tried to
stimulate agriculture to reduce dependence on imported food
(about half of the food is imported). Lack of land (only 0.5
per cent of land area is cultivated), poor infrastructure
and labor shortage (by moving from the countryside in some
areas) pose problems for agriculture. The most significant
export crops are cocoa, coffee and oil palm products. The
most important food crops are cassava, jams and corn.
About 3/4 of Gabon's area is covered with forest, mostly
rainforest. Prior to the discovery and extraction of oil and
mining minerals in the early 1960s, the economy was almost
entirely dominated by forestry. The felled volume has again
increased after a decline in the 1980s. Reduced production
in competing countries (mainly in Southeast Asia) and
devaluation of the domestic currency in 1994 have further
strengthened the forest industry's opportunities in the
international market. The country's exports are dominated by
raw timber, mainly gabon, which is used, among other things,
in furniture manufacturing.
Minerals and energy
Oil, mined since 1956, is the country's most important
export commodity. The country is the ninth largest oil
producer in Africa; In 2010, oil exports accounted for 70
percent of total export value and 50 percent of GDP. The
majority of the oil is extracted on the continental shelf
Manganese has been mined since 1962 and is the country's
third largest export product. Gabon is estimated to have 7
percent of the world's known reserves, and the majority is
in the deposit at Mouanana near the city of Moanda, about 50
km northwest of Masuku. The uranium, which began to be mined
in 1958, is the country's fourth largest export commodity.
The largest deposit is also found at Mouanana. Smaller
deposits of lead, zinc and phosphate are also available. At
Belinga, in northeast Gabon, there is also one of the
world's largest iron ore deposits.
The country has a large hydropower potential, which is
partly already being developed, and plans for further
expansion are in place.
Gabon has a limited manufacturing industry, which is
essentially the so-called import substitution industry. The
emphasis is on the export industry in the form of timber
handling, oil refining (in Port-Gentil) and the production
of mineral concentrates. The main problem for future
industrial development in the country is too small a market.
Therefore, to develop the sector, the country relies on
markets throughout the Central African Customs and Trade
Union (UDEAC), of which Gabon is a member.
Gabon has since enjoyed a positive trade balance.
However, the large dependence on oil exports (in 2016, oil
accounted for about 80 per cent of export revenues),
however, makes the country sensitive to price fluctuations
in the world market. In addition to oil, manganese, timber
and uranium are important export goods. Imports are
dominated by machinery, machinery and food. Important
trading partners are France, the US and China.