Gabon, the second largest economic power in Equatorial Africa, has major advantages: vast forestry resources, arable land and exceptional biodiversity. However, the country needs to address the challenge of inequalities, develop its infrastructure and scale up access to healthcare and education for all. AFD is assisting it on the path towards emergence.
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Transgabonais, train, woman, Gabon, transport
AFD and Gabon: Providing access to basic services for all and protecting natural resources
nature, sheds, Gabon, Sonier Issembé

Facilitating access to education for all

education, classroom, young girls, Gabon

Facilitating access to education for all

The characteristics of Gabon in the education sector are out of step with countries that have the same income level: only 44.4% of the over 25s had had a secondary education in 2010 and the satisfaction index for the quality of education stood at 46.5% in 2011. The public education system faces many challenges: insufficient number of classes, overcrowded classes, shortage of teachers, reduction in the theoretical learning time… In this context marked by years of underinvestment and rural exodus, the Gabonese Government has identified two priorities: develop human capital and catch up in terms of needs for school infrastructure.

To achieve these objectives, AFD is assisting the Ministry of Education with the Education Sector Investment Program – PISE, which aims to:

  • Reduce the school infrastructure deficit by building 500 new classrooms (primary and secondary) in Libreville and Port-Gentil, which will receive some 25,000 students. 
  • Contribute to the quality of education provision and school life by assisting the ministry in handling the improvement of schooling and learning conditions for students.

Reviving the agriculture sector

agriculture, plantation, Gabon

Reviving the agriculture sector

Gabon’s economy is marked by its agricultural dependence on the outside world. With domestic production falling short of local demand, there has been a sharp rise in food imports to meet the growing needs of the population. 

Gabon can, however, boast major advantages: 3.5 million hectares of unexploited arable land, an abundant and qualified labor force, favorable climatic conditions and a buoyant domestic market. 

To reduce its dependence on imports, diversify an economy largely fueled by oil, increase employment and revitalize rural areas, the Gabonese authorities have made the agriculture sector a national priority.

AFD has been supporting this strategy for over 20 years by helping set up the Gabonese Institute for Development Support (IGAD) and financing the activities of this institute. In the context of the last project (PRODIAG), 1,034 farms were developed nationwide, 3,000 people were trained in environmentally friendly agricultural practices and over 8,000 tons of agricultural commodities were produced, generating over FCFA 3.5bn of income in 2016.

Reconciling biodiversity protection and rational exploitation

exploitation, forests, stack of wood, Gabon

Reconciling biodiversity protection and rational exploitation

Gabon is regarded as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and has a forest which is described as the world’s second lung after Amazonia. It has made a strong commitment to the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. 

For example, this led to the classification of 13 national parks in August 2002, covering some 3 million hectares, i.e. 11% of the territory, managed by the National Agency for National Parks. The Government of Gabon also intends to regulate the timber industry and ensure the sustainable exploitation of forestry resources, as the forest sector plays an essential role in Gabon’s economy. 

It is in this context that AFD is contributing to preserving forestry ecosystems and to their rational exploitation. These projects have contributed to conserving and developing national parks on the outskirts of Libreville, but also, at national level, to improving the control of forest development and to supporting the forest/timber industry to facilitate its transformation.

Making healthcare accessible to all, everywhere

doctors, man, woman, health, Gabon

Making healthcare accessible to all, everywhere

Gabon’s health sector has significant resources compared to neighboring countries. However, the budget allocation for the sector remains low, there is insufficient medical infrastructure and staff and a great disparity between territories. 

In this context, the Government of Gabon has pledged to ensure the health system removes institutional and geographical barriers and improves the effectiveness of care practices. The aim is to improve access to health services for populations. 

AFD has been working to achieve this objective since 2010:

  • A first project rehabilitated medical centers in Libreville (Okala, London, Lapeyrie) and the north of the country and supplied health goods. 
  • A second ongoing project aims to strengthen healthcare provision. How? By rehabilitating 27 medical centers in 4 provinces (Woleu-Ntem, Ogooué Ivindo, Haut Ogooué, Ngounié), building housing for health workers and supplying equipment which complies with national standards. The project also aims to improve the quality of healthcare delivery thanks to a program to develop and optimize health human resources (assistance in planning and managing the HR services of the Ministry of Health, in-service training).

Promoting cohesion in the country with the Transgabonais

driver, train, transport, Transgabonais, Gabon

Promoting cohesion in the country with the Transgabonais

The Transgabonais is 648 km long and is the only railway in Gabon. It plays a crucial role in the economic and social development of the country. It transports passengers, minerals, timber and goods via the equatorial forest, from Franceville to Libreville. Since the commissioning of the last section connecting Franceville in 1986, there had been no more major works on the Transgabonais: the infrastructure and equipment were ageing.

The Transgabonais Operating Company (SETRAG) set out to address this situation by launching a plan to upgrade the railway, over several years, involving various actors, including AFD Group. The project provides for the construction of housing for SETRAG employees, clinics and support for the training center in Franceville.

The works should not only benefit users, but also railway employees and people living along the track.

euros committed between 2010 and 2017

Gabon, a country in Equatorial Africa located in the Gulf of Guinea, has 1.8 million inhabitants and one of the highest GDPs per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the second largest economic power in the region.

The country, nicknamed “the world’s second lung” after Amazonia, has vast forestry resources. It also benefits from arable land and favorable climatic conditions for agriculture.

However, it does stand out for its socioeconomic characteristics, which are unusual for a country in this income bracket: 21% of the population lives below the poverty line and there are persistent income inequalities. The situation on the labor market also gives cause for concern: the unemployment rate stands at 28%, and is particularly high among young working people (almost 37%). Gabon’s growth model is fragile and insufficiently diversified: economic growth and the level of public investment are heavily dependent on sustained high oil prices. The country is also seriously lagging behind in the development of infrastructure (transport, sanitation) and in social and educational services (health, education). 

The country’s development policy is set out in the Emerging Gabon Strategic Plan (PSGE) prepared in 2009. This plan defines the guidelines to make Gabon an emerging country by 2025. AFD is supporting the implementation of the PSGE and committed some EUR 800m between 2010 and 2017.

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  • Climate
  • Forests and Biodiversity
  • Infrastructure
  • Poverty
  • Sustainable Cities

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Research document

Export diversification in the franc zone: its extent, sophistication and dynamics

It is now a widely recognised fact in the economic literature that the level of per capita income and the degree of sectoral concentration of economic activity evolve together over ...
Dec 2012