In Gabon, the economy is highly dependent on oil extraction, but primary materials are abundant. Before the discovery of oil, logging was the pillar of the Gabonese economy. Today, logging and manganese mining are the next-most-important income generators. Recent explorations suggest the presence of the world’s largest unexploited iron ore deposit. Foreign and local observers have lamented the lack of diversity in the Gabonese economy. Nevertheless, Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most sub-Saharan African nations, but because of high income inequality, a large proportion of the population remains poor.
The Internet penetration rate was 48% in 2017. There is an adequate system of cable, microwave radio relay, tropospheric scatter, radiotelephone communication stations, and a domestic satellite system. Fiber optic is deployed in over 1200 km around the country.
A growing mobile cellular network with multiple providers is making telephone service more widely available with mobile cellular teledensity approaching 150 per 100 persons. 3G/4G licences were introduced in 2014. The Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes (ARCEP) is the agency responsible for the regulation of the telecoms market in Gabon.
From 2010 to 2016, oil accounted for approximately 80% of Gabon’s exports, 45% of its GDP, and 60% of its state budget revenues. A rebound of oil prices from 2001 to 2013 helped growth, but declining production, as some fields passed their peak production, has hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. GDP grew nearly 6% per year over the 2010-14 period, but slowed significantly in 2015 as oil prices declined. Low oil prices also weakened government revenue and negatively affected the trade and current account balances.
Despite an abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management and over-reliance on oil has stifled the economy. Power cuts and water shortages are frequent. Significant cuts in budget expenditures – Gabon’s budget has contracted for four years in a row – have not extended to the government’s priority projects.
Gabon Telecom SA is the largest telecom company in Gabon. The company manages the country’s country code top-level domain, and it operates about 35,000 land lines. Its cellular phone service subsidiary, Libertis, has over 200,000 customers. In 2007, Maroc Telecom acquired 51% of the company from the government of Gabon.
*None reported as of October, 2017.