The ratings agency found that recovering global oil prices have benefited Gabon (Reuters reported that prices rose by a hefty 39.4 per cent in 2011, largely compensating any stagnation in production output). Oil revenue accounted for 59.8 per cent of the state’s fiscal revenue and 87.3 per cent of exports last year. Decline, however, is set to resume by 2015 pending any major new oil discoveries. But the change in outlook is also due to sizeable public investment since President Bongo came to power in 2009, partly in preparation for the Africa Cup of Nations but also to wean the economy off oil.
Fitch improves Gabon’s outlook
At a time when huge economies such as the US and France have suffered downgrades in their credit rating, Fitch has improved Gabon’s outlook to positive.
GDP per head, at $10,500 (€8,087), is above many fellow BB- nations and the GDP growth of 6.7 per cent in 2011 is set to continue this year. Gabon is tackling corruption and improving its business climate, a move which appears to be paying dividends with healthy investment by foreign companies in the timber, infrastructure and energy sectors.
The government has been able to reduce its public debt and is doing better than many of its peers with government debt standing at 20.4 per cent of GDP.