afrol News, 20 November - A new analysis of the Gabonese economy is more optimistic about economic growth this year and next year. As oil revenues are decreasing, Gabon is successfully is diversifying its economy.
According to the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) analysis of the Gabonese economy, released today, a more optimistic outlook can now be presented. The IMF, after meeting Economy Minister Magloire Ngambia in Libreville, has strongly adjusted upwards its GDP growth projections for Gabon.
The slow growth of 2009, caused by the global crisis and low oil prices, has already been replaced by fast growth this year and a positive trend to last well into 2011 as well.
According to IMF analyst Bernardin Akitoby, low prices and low demand for oil, manganese, and forestry products had "shrunk the fiscal and current account surpluses in 2009 and turned growth moderately negative." Gabon's GDP growth in 2009 however had not turned out as poor as the IMF originally had projected, and ended at a decent 4 percent.
The Fund last year had predicted a 5.1 percent GDP growth for Gabon in 2010, but new data released by the Gabonese government now indicated that recovery has been even faster. "Real GDP is forecast to increase to about 5.7 percent in 2010, reflecting increased public investment and a rebound in mining," according to Mr Akitoby.
Also the negative forecast for 2011 - the IMF only expected a growth rate of 4.0 percent - has been adjusted upwards. “Real GDP growth in 2011 is forecast at 5.6 percent, supported by mining, wood processing, and public investment," according to IMF analyst Akitoby.
The positive forecast for 2011 is especially impressive when havi
Gabon's President Ali Bongo (r) netted large investments in Singapore last week
ng in mind that Gabon is expected to have a zero or even negative growth in its oil sector next year. That means that the Gabonese non-oil sector is expected to grow by around 7 percent next year.
According to the IMF analyst, the foremost risk to the economic outlook for Gabon is a decline in oil and manganese prices. "These commodities account for about 90 percent of total exports of goods and 45 percent of nominal GDP," Mr Akitoby recalls.
The Fund hails the Gabonese government's aims to transform the country into "an emerging economy through diversification away from oil" and the promotion of a business friendly environment. This was especially important as Gabon's long-time key export product, oil, was getting exhausted. Oil production has declined for over ten years.
Gabonese authorities, facing declining revenues, were forced to ask for IMF assistance to reform the corruption-ridden economy in 2002. With far-ranging reforms implemented during the next three years, authorities sought foreign investments in industry, agriculture and tourism to lessen the country's dependence on its dwindling oil resources.
These efforts paid off last week, as President Ali Bongo on an official visit to Singapore secured record investments totalling US$ 1.7 billion. Contracts were signed to construct a large fertilizer production plant in Port Gentil and to establish palm oil plantations over an area of 300,000 hectares.
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