Agriculture and fishing
For their own use, the Gabonese grow cassava, jams and some corn, but the production is not enough to feed the country’s residents. In addition, the rapidly growing urban population has increasingly shifted to Western eating habits, and most of the food consumed in the country must therefore be imported.
- CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Gabon. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.
Only a few percent of the country’s area is cultivated. Other agricultural land is used as pasture for livestock breeding or is in the woods.
Agriculture is largely made up of self-catering cultivation. Palm oil is the most significant crop grown for sale, but exports are small. Some sugar and rubber are also produced. The once-significant cultivation of cocoa and coffee has declined sharply since the 1990s, but in 2008 a new venture was started on these products for sale abroad.
Most of Gabon is covered by forest and forestry is of great economic importance: after oil it is Gabon’s largest source of export income and, after the state, the largest employer. European and Asian companies dominate the forest industry. The most important type of wood is okoumé, also called gabon mahogany, and ozigo. They are light and soft and are used, among other things, for furniture production.
Gabon has mainly exported raw timber but all such exports were banned in the spring of 2010 – the intention was that the timber would be processed in Gabon. Initially, this meant that the forest sector almost collapsed, as the country had problems handling all timber. However, the forest industry has recovered since the government instead agreed to phase out the transition for a long transition period. For Gabon defense and foreign policy, please check prozipcodes.
Threats to the rainforest are among the most serious environmental problems in Gabon. Parts of the coastal forest have been cut so hard that regrowth has been hampered. The World Wildlife Fund strives to protect parts of the rainforest against logging, partly because it is feared that continued exploitation may trigger new outbreaks of the dreaded Ebola fever. However, most of the rain forest is still untouched. In 2007, Gabon became the first country in Africa to join the PEFC (Program for the Endorsement Certification), a global system to ensure that the harvesting of rainforests takes place in a gentle manner.
Good fishing waters exist both in the sea and in the country’s inland waters, but catches have been steadily declining since 2004. Gabon has sold the annual allowance to fish in Gabonese waters to other countries, including the EU. The intention is that the revenue will be used to support the fishing in Gabon. Japan has funded fishing and fish processing facilities in Port-Gentil and Lambaréné.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
5.3 percent (2017)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
20.0 percent (2016)
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of GAB stands for the state of Gabon in geography.
Bongo promises money to young people
On the 55th anniversary of Gabon’s independence, President Bongo says he plans to donate his share of the inheritance of his father and President Omar Bongo to “Gabon’s youth.” The inheritance will be given in the form of a youth and education fund. A building outside Libreville will be transformed into a new university and two buildings in Paris will house a cultural center and diplomatic activity. The deceased Omar Bongo’s fortune is said to amount to hundreds of millions of dollars and is to be distributed among more than 50 heirs. Critics see the play as an attempt by Ali Bongo to increase his popularity ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
The regime is accused of bribing Messi
The government is accused of paying Argentine footballer Lionel Messi € 3.5 million for a visit to Gabon, where he took the first spade to a new football stadium in Port-Gentil for the African Championships 2017. In addition, Messi has made a positive statement about President Bongo and his regime. Critics believe that the money should instead have gone to improve the situation for Gabon’s children (Messi is also the Unicef ambassador with the task of promoting children’s education). The government denies that it paid Messi for the visit.
Big strikes for pay raises
For several months, Gabon has been shaken by strikes in a number of important sectors of the labor market. Particularly affected are the schools and health care, where unions have demanded salary increases of up to 350 percent. The employees have not been content with the promises of revised pay scales. The crisis in the labor market, which also affects private companies, coincides with lower oil prices, which account for 60 percent of the state’s income. An offer from the state for a temporary salary premium of 18 percent for three months is rejected by the unions.
Ban on opposition party lifted
The government repeals the ban on the opposition party UN (see January 2011). The party has not been able to work outward since 2011, but it has continued to work internally (see Political system).
Ping’s home is vandalized
Opposition politician Jean Ping’s home is being attacked by a crowd of a few hundred people. Ping, who was previously foreign minister and chairman of the AU’s commission, says the assailants are sent by the regime and that the police refuse to intervene. Instead, the crowd is driven away by Ping’s supporters called to the site. A number of people are arrested, and according to Ping, one of them must have said that the attackers received about SEK 70 each to vandalize Ping’s home.