This assessment by the leader in credit insurance, measured in terms of the average risk level for short-term non-payment, reaffirms Gabon's financial credibility on the eve of the Franco-African Forum for Shared Growth, which will bring together the main actors in the north-south economy.
COFACE's most recent quarterly mapping maintains Gabon's number one position among the countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), paralleling countries such as Kenya, Benin, Senegal and Cape Verde in performance, following the top four sub-Saharan African countries, Namibia, Mauritius, South Africa and Botswana. Based on macroeconomic, financial and political data, taking into account payment history recorded by companies and awareness of the business environment, the insurer of French foreign trade affirmed Gabon's "B" rating in 2014, among the group of the ten least risky economies in Africa. A risk assessment - an evaluation of the probability of default in business - that Portugal, Italy and Turkey also share.
In its analytical commentary, COFACE underlined the resilience and rebound potential of a Gabonese economy on the path of diversification and integration of value chains, in a period of falling oil prices.
- Growth prospects, however, remain good in the medium term.
- Growth will be driven by public investment under the Plan Stratégique Gabon Emergent (PSGE), the natural resources sector (agroindustry, gold and manganese mines, wood processing) and services.
- The government signed seven new offshore exploration permits in August 2014. The authorities, who have recast the hydrocarbon code, seem to have decided to strengthen their control over the sector and to capture a larger share of oil revenues.
- The external accounts and the public accounts are expected to deteriorate in 2015, mainly because of lower oil revenues.
- The decline in crude oil exports, will lead to a shrinking of the trade balance surplus (the expected growth in sales of manganese and wood, the second and third most important products exported, is not expected to offset this decline before 2017)
- IMF has advised the authorities to improve their control of the wage bill, to reduce energy subsidies and tax exemptions and focus on infrastructures with a strong economic impact. Moreover it is encouraging the government to continue the efforts made to diversify the economy and improve the business climate and to tackle the weak financial position of publicly owned banks.
In November 2014, an IMF mission to Gabon commended the authorities for "having addressed budgetary pressures and for having examined the issue of arrears". During the recent government seminar, the Head of State recalled that Gabon was the oil-producing country whose economy was the most diversified since 2009. In order to move from a culture of consumption to a culture of production, it is necessary to "break the chains of habit (…), and to find opportunities for growth in the future within the context of a national pact for competitiveness". All of these are assets and goals that Gabon will present at the Franco-African Forum for Shared Growth in early February, organised a year after the Elysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa.