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World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Gabon

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Gabon: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Gabon

Lightweight suits are required. French is the principal language used in business circles. Translators and interpreters are available through the embassy. Strong business ties remain with France despite competition from the USA and Japan.

Office Hours

Mon-Fri 0730-1200 and 1430-1800.

Economy

Oil reserves and mineral deposits have allowed Gabon to develop into one of Africa's more successful economies. At US$5,900, Gabon has one of the highest per capita incomes on the African continent.

One-third of GDP comes from the oil industry; there are also significant mining operations producing manganese and uranium. There are confirmed deposits of iron ore (which are substantial) and also a number of rare metal ores.

There is a small manufacturing base engaged in oil refining and the production of plywood, paints, varnishes and detergents, dry batteries, cement, cigarettes and textiles. Future industrial growth in this sector is likely to be limited by a shortage of skilled labour, high costs and inadequate infrastructure.

Meanwhile, agriculture remains important, as it still employs two-thirds of the working population. Gabon produces coffee, sugar cane, rubber and some other cash crops - also cassava and maize for domestic consumption.

Both the timber and fishing industries, while making strong contributions to the national economy, may be the subject of future expansion as export earners, although timber production is likely to be limited by environmental concerns. Like all primary producers, Gabon remains vulnerable to fluctuations in commodity prices.

Gabon is a member of the Central African Customs and Economic Union (CEEAC) and of the CFA Franc Zone.
Further information can be obtained from the Chambre de Commerce, d'Agriculture, d'Industrie et des Mines du Gabon (see Commercial Information below).

GDP

US$8.3 billion (2005).

Main exports

Crude oil, timber, manganese and uranium.

Main imports

Machines and equipment, food, chemicals and construction materials.

Main trading partners

China, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, UK and USA.

Keeping in Touch in Gabon

Telephone

No area codes required.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with some international mobile phone companies. Coverage is variable.

Internet

Internet is increasingly available; there are a growing number of Internet cafes in Libreville.

Media

Mostly, Gabon's media is government controlled and journalistic pressure is subtle but ever-present.

Post

Airmail from Gabon takes at least one week to Western Europe. Urgent letters should be sent by special delivery to ensure their safe arrival.

Post Office hours

0800-1200 and Mon-Fri 1430-1800.