The FINANCIAL — The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today discussed a new four-year Country Partnership Strategy for Gabon, focused on adopting the transfomational changes and reforms Gabon needs to lay the foundation for job-creating, long-term economic growth.
Renewing infrastructure and basic services; promoting agriculture and job creation especially for unemployed youth; tackling urban poverty; and increasing opportunities for girls and women are some of the other cross-cutting objectives of the CPS.
More than 75 percent of Gabon’s estimated 1.5 million inhabitants live in urban areas. The population is young, with 50 percent under 19 years of age.
“The support that has been discussed is in line with the World Bank’s Strategy for Africa, which pays special attention to the urgent need for job creation, good governance, and a high performing public sector. It also integrates and is inspired by the priorities laid out in the Gabon’s strategic development program,” said Zouera Youssoufou, the World Bank Country Manager for Gabon.
According to the World Bank, the US$250 million in World Bank funding for Gabon during the four-year period will notably support critical reforms in public financial management and key economic sectors.
It will more specifically seek to improve development outcomes in six areas: improving governance; improving efficiencies and transparency in the management of the budget; improving the country’s management of its debt and its mining resources; improving the investment climate and supporting the growth of the private sector; ensuring the adoption of a long-term plan for the transparent management of the country’s natural resources; and the production of an in-depth analysis of the country’s social safety net and its health system.
Gabon is a resource-rich country and the fifth largest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is well endowed with arable land, forest, and mineral resources, has extraordinary biodiversity, as well as rich deposits of magnesium and iron ore.
Forty years after the start of oil exploration, Gabon remains largely dependent on oil. On average over the last five years, the oil sector has accounted for 80 percent of exports, 45 percent of GDP, and 60 percent of the budget revenue.
A middle-income country, Gabon has been a member of the World Bank since 1963. Since then, the World Bank has funded some 20 projects in the country. In March 2011, the value of the World Bank’s portfolio was an estimated US$51 millions, invested in five ongoing or active projects.