GABON: GOOD AND BAD THINGS

Compared to its neighbors and the rest of Sub-Saharan community Gabon has been doing good things. I always say that you know a country is on the rise when you don’t see it constantly appearing on the international news cycle. Gabon has quite a few factors working in its favor: the fact that they have low population density; vast deposits of petroleum and large amounts of foreign private investment have all helped. Gabon has the 2nd highest HDI and the 3rd highest GDP per capita (PPP) in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is all despite the fact that Gabon is home to 40 different ethnic groups.  
 
From the data available one can easily deduce that the country is stable. Additionally the current inflation rate is at an amazing 1.3%.What does this mean for entrepreneurs in the country?? Good and bad things. As a result of the country’s huge reliance on oil revenue’s other sectors of the economy remain largely undeveloped, something it has in common with most of its neighbors. However, the government have identified the problem and are trying to alleviate dependence on the oil sector by realizing the potential of Eco-tourism and the importance it could play to the economy. They have reached the next step by actively investing in the protection of rain-forests and national parks. This opens doors for the population that is improvised to get involved, find and create employment from all the areas that will undoubtedly be affected by a boom in the tourism industry. 21% of the country is currently employed and a few jobs here and there could help bridge the difference.
 
Additionally the regulations structure poses hurdles for budding entrepreneurs; it leaves them with momentous bureaucratic and procedural obstacles. Most notably the country has failed to produce any stand out entrepreneurs despite its stability. To have a successful business you need to be legitimate and the government has made this extremely difficult in Gabon – on average it takes 200 days to get licensed. Moreover the financial sector is surprisingly underdeveloped and remains largely in state-control. The administration of President Ali Bongo has done a commendable job of ensuring stability and foreign direct investment as well as education and basic infrastructure but they have taken a back seat, and now the entrepreneurs need to step up and take their country to the next level.
Photo Credits: Associated Foreign Press, BBC.com, Shutterstock 

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