Gabon is an upper-middle income country with a GDP per capita of 8,300 USD. It is sparsely populated (2 million in.) and forests cover 85% of its territory.
Despite its resources and the relatively high GDP, Gabon still suffers from high infant mortality, lack of basic sanitation services and high HIV prevalence. In addition, the Ease of Doing Business Index ranks Gabon 169th out of 190 countries.
The Plan ‘Emerging Gabon 2025’ aims at an efficient public administration, basic infrastructures, a fair judicial system, poverty and inequality reduction and the diversification of the economy. The well-equipped Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux manages a wide network of protected areas.
The strategic objectives of our cooperation with Gabon are to:
- maintain close political relations through regular political dialogue
- promote the values of democracy, good governance, rule of law and human rights
- support regional integration, peace and security
Actions pursuing these objectives are funded by programmes jointly identified by the EU with Gabonese authorities and by direct calls for proposals by the EU to civil society organisations and local authorities.
- the AFIP-Training and Professional Insertion Project 2013-2018 (€4.4 million) allowed for 3,000 young people aged 16-25 to attend trainings on wood crafting, farming, construction and public works; and improved facilities of 9 training centers
- the upgrade of 2.5 km of the rainwater drainage of Nzeng-Ayong canal (€12 million) helped reduce waterborne diseases and floods in the 6th district of Libreville with 30,000 inhabitants
- through NGO-channeled ongoing support to promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights (€135 000) several awareness campaigns reached 8,000 young students, 5,000 young people received individual counselling, 2 health clubs were created and are run by 30 young peer educators in targeted schools
- under the regional ECOFAC 6 programme, the EU supports since 2017 the National Agency of National Parks (ANPN) in the management of the natural parks of Lopé, Waka and Mayumba covering 6,850 km2 of mostly forest (€5 million). Achievements so far include:
- upgrade of parks' infrastructure
- more effective fight against poaching: in 2018 alone, 122 rangers patrolled 17,335 km, this led to reporting and investigation of poaching cases
- closer collaboration with the local populations in preservation awareness campaigns and trainings, and development of eco-tourism
- scientific research, mostly through the 'Station d'Etudes des Gorilles et Chimpanzés' (SEGC) affiliated to the University of Stirling was undertaken.
EU cooperation with Gabon focuses on 'Employment promotion via technical and professional education'. This includes €5 million to support collaboration between professional training centers and the private sector. Overall objectives stated in the national strategic plan 'Emerging Gabon 2025' are: i) acceleration of economic growth and economic diversification, ii) reduction of poverty and social inequalities' and iii) sustainable management of the country's resources.
The EU also supports civil society in Gabon to reinforce their capacity as actors of governance with €0.95 million for 2018-2020.
Gabon also benefits from regional programmes as part of the Economic Community of Central African States' (ECCAS):
- ECOFAC 6 (Preserving Biodiversity and Fragile Ecosystems in Central Africa) aiming to ensure more effective protection of biodiversity in fragile ecosystems in the natural parks of Lope, Waka and Mayumba.
- PARCIC (ECCAS Reform and Institutional Capacity Building Support Program - Peace and Security Sector) supporting the process of institutional and organisational reforms of ECCAS, the fight against poaching and traffic of natural resources and strengthening regional and national capacities for border management.
- PASSMAR (Programme supporting the implementation of the Central African Integrated Maritime Strategy) which aims to strengthen maritime governance and improve control of maritime areas in the Gulf of Guinea. It also focuses on the improvement of national legislative and regulatory frameworks and law enforcement and the facilitation of involvement of civil society and the private sector in the maritime policies.