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Gabon Country Report

Country Risk Level



Executive Summary

Gabon is likely to suffer severe and long-lasting consequences from the COVID-19 virus outbreak-induced oil-price collapse because it relies on oil for 60% of its fiscal revenue. The impact will be mitigated slightly by funding from the IMF under the Rapid Financing Instrument to address urgent balance of payment needs stemming from the pandemic, but a deepening of long-running public-sector austerity measures will be necessary, raising the risk of a general strike. The Bongo family's political control over Gabon has been reasserted by the appointment of President Ali Bongo's eldest son, Noureddin, as an adviser in December 2019. Noureddin’s allies took key government positions in 2020, cementing his influence. After over a year of uncertainty following his father's stroke in October 2018, a succession strategy is in place should the still-ailing president decide to step down before the next election in 2023, despite his 27-year-old son's inexperience. Gabon's new mining and petroleum codes were ratified in July 2019. We see the oil-revenues starved government likely to further reform the mining code to increase taxes and bring it closer to international standards to support diversification away from oil. Gabon's current-account deficit is expected to average 10.0% of GDP through to the next 24 months, largely driven by weaker global oil prices and higher healthcare-related needs. Non-oil exports, such as manganese, timber, iron ore, rubber, and palm oil, are expected to suffer from depressed external demand as global economic prospects remain muddied by continued uncertainty linked to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Cancellation of the contract of utility provider SEEG in February 2018 is likely to have a long-term damaging impact on Gabon's reputation with international investors, even though the case was settled in February 2019 with Gabon paying compensation. A catalogue of unpaid debts to government contractors is a further deterrent.

Operational Outlook

The country continues to struggle with a legacy of bureaucracy, red tape, and corruption. Labour costs remain high and employers repeatedly complain of a lack of well-qualified personnel, while strikes are frequent over unpaid salaries, lack of jobs and high living costs. An extensive civil service austerity programme introduced in June 2018 remains likely to provoke piecemeal strike action by unions, disrupting much of government business. The existence of well-connected corruption networks was illustrated in 2019 by the seizure and subsequent disappearance of hundreds of containers of rare tropical hardwood. By contrast, court cases for alleged embezzlement are used as punishment for politicians who have fallen out of favour.


Domestic terrorism had historically been non-existent in Gabon until a knife attack on two Danish journalists at a Libreville market in December 2017. This is highly likely to remain an isolated incident, with no evidence of outside support for the lone perpetrator. The presence of a French army base in Libreville improves security capabilities beyond local capacities in the event of any developing threat. The only substantial source of concern is piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. A spate of incidents around Libreville anchorage in late December 2019 suggests Gabonese waters are being targeted by Niger Delta-based pirates for the first time since early 2014.


Crime of almost all types is far less prevalent in Gabon than most other sub-Saharan African countries. Petty theft is the most common offence, though violent crime is on the rise in urban areas as economic hardship persists, and there have been armed robberies in homes, restaurants, and at beaches frequented by foreigners. Gabon has long been a destination and transit country for children from poorer West African countries trafficked for forced labour and prostitution. Some victims transit through Gabon en route to exploitation in Equatorial Guinea, but Gabon is also a final destination because of its relative wealth for the region.

War Risks

Gabon enjoys stable relationships with neighbouring countries and war risks are minimal. The presence of French forces is a deterrent to any acts of aggression by neighbours. Risks are diminishing further due to Gabon’s integration in the Central African regional African Union standby brigade, and increasing security co-operation with neighbours. Civil war risks are moderate despite simmering resentment over the grip on power enjoyed by the Bongo family and its Téké clan. This was underlined by the lack of public and security force response to an appeal on 7 January 2019 by coup plotters to join them in unseating the then absent convalescent president Ali Bongo.

Social Stability


The outlook for civil unrest is dominated by union responses to a wide-ranging programme of public-sector austerity measures introduced by the government in late June 2018. A general strike is still a possibility at some point, with a high risk of regular, prolonged, and disruptive protests featuring several thousand participants. Political protest has remained muted after the October 2018 legislative elections showed how weak and divided the opposition has become since almost unseating President Bongo in the 2016 poll. This was underlined by the lack of any significant response to Bongo spending five months out of the country after suffering a stroke and remaining in poor health.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and over one year of age.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

During the rainy season (October to December and February to April), torrential rainfall can cause significant material damages, including in Libreville.


Except for Libreville and Port Gentil, where roads are paved but poorly maintained, road infrastructure throughout the country is limited and in poor condition. During the rainy season (October to December and February to April), driving conditions are often hazardous, rendering driving impossible on some roads. In general, roads have little or no lighting. There is also a risk from dangerous driving habits (speeding, uncertain driving, untimely overruns, etc.).

Outside major cities, all travel should be conducted during the day with an all-terrain vehicle (4x4) stocked with adequate supplies of water, food, and fuel. It is also advised to ensure that the vehicle contains mechanical spare parts (wheels, cables, etc.) and has effective means of telecommunication.

In the event of a traffic accident, it is recommended to immediately travel to the nearest police station due to the risk of potentially hostile reactions from local drivers and the public.

It is important to stop at any roadblocks erected by the security forces, both in cities and in rural areas, and be prepared to present necessary documentation (e.g. passport, visa, car registration details, etc.).

Public transportation (e.g. minibuses) should be avoided due to drivers' risky behaviors and the vehicles poor maintenance. Never hail taxis on the street.

Several local airlines serve various cities of the country. However, some are on the list of airlines banned from operating in the European Union (the so-called blacklist).

Practical Information


Gabon's climate is equatorial, hot, and very humid. The country experiences a rainy season from October until December and then a second, more intense rainy season from February until April. The long dry seasons last from May until September and the short dry season from December until January. Temperatures are high all year long (usually between 23°C and 26°C), going as low as 18°C (July) and as high as 35°C (April). The country also receives between 2 and 4 meters of rainfall annually.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +241
Police-Emergency: 117


Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz


Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal