Gabon’s economic outlook has improved after the African Development Bank (AfDB) lifted financial sanctions imposed in 2022 following the coup that ousted President Ali Bongo. The sanctions had a significant impact on Gabon’s economy, limiting the country’s access to international financing and disrupting its trade and investment flows.
The coup also led to the suspension of Gabon’s participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade program by the U.S. The sanctions had a significant impact on Gabon’s economy, which contracted by 3.2% in 2023, according to the AfDB.
In October, Gabon coup leader Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema made efforts to lift international sanctions. The successful negotiations between the new Gabonese authorities and senior AfDB officials were the culmination of two separate discussions held in October 2023 in Morocco and the Republic of Congo. The removal of sanctions is a crucial development, as it allows the country to resume receiving loans and grants from the AfDB for its domestic projects. This will boost economic growth and create opportunities for its citizens.
The talks in the Republic of Congo focused on the economic situation in Gabon and the AfDB’s support for its recovery and development. The AfDB has provided support through the financing of more than 20 projects in a variety of sectors in Gabon, such as infrastructure, energy, agriculture, health, education, and governance. The AfDB also agreed to provide additional funding for Gabon’s COVID-19 response and vaccination program, as well as for its climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. The AfDB has been supporting Gabon through its Country Strategy Paper (CSP). The CSP focuses on two strategic pillars: infrastructure development and governance improvement.
The lifting of sanctions also highlights the importance of diplomatic and financial negotiations in shaping a country’s economic prospects on the international stage. Diplomatic negotiations can help countries build international coalitions to recover from financial crises and promote economic growth. Economic diplomacy, which includes building international coalitions, can also help countries address economic disparities and promote inclusive economic development within the country and the region. Financial negotiations, on the other hand, can help countries access international financial markets and attract foreign investment. This is important for countries that need to finance their domestic projects and create opportunities for their citizens. Diplomatic and financial negotiations are important tools for countries to shape their economic prospects on the international stage.
The lifting of sanctions is expected to have positive effects on Gabon’s relations with other countries, especially its neighbors and regional partners. Gabon has followed a non-aligned policy, advocating dialogue in international affairs and recognizing both parts of divided countries. Gabon has also played an important leadership role in the stability of Central Africa through involvement in mediation efforts in Chad, the Central African Republic, Angola, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi. The resumption of cooperation with the AfDB could enhance Gabon’s credibility and influence in the region, as well as its participation in regional integration initiatives, such as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).
However, the lifting of sanctions does not mean that Gabon’s challenges are over. The country remains vulnerable to external shocks, such as fluctuations in oil prices and the ripple effects of the coup, which could affect its macroeconomic stability and fiscal sustainability. The new government has promised to implement economic reforms, but it is still unclear how these reforms will be implemented and what their impact will be on the country’s economy.