Is the population supportive of the government’s measures?
On the whole, the public understands the gravity of the threat. In order to build trust and combat misinformation, Gabon has set up a daily update on the evolution of the epidemic, run by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, Dr Guy-Patrick Obiang Ndong. Transparency is essential for ensuring public support and avoiding panic. However on the ground, barrier measures were not always respected fully. As a consequence, President Ali Bongo Ondimba declared a state of health emergency on April 9, and a lockdown for Great Libreville starting April 12.
Is the healthcare system resilient enough to cope with the epidemic?
Gabon has some of the better health infrastructures per capita on the content, with well-trained medical staff. In fact, the very first infected patient in the country was successfully cured in the Akanda army training hospital, and others are in the process of recovery. The only registered death at the time of writing is that of a patient who, returning from France, also suffered from diabetes. It should also be noted that Gabon has four analytical laboratories, including a Level 4 one, which is uncommon in Africa. It also hosts the Franceville International Medical Research Centre (CIRMF), which is world-renowned in the field of tropical infectious diseases.
What will the economic impact of the coronavirus be in Gabon?
A priori, there will be a decrease in expected growth between 0.3 and 2.7% (as opposed to the initially predicted +4%) and an estimated drop in government revenue of 230 to 645 billion CFA francs, depending on the scenario. Customs duties are falling due to the slowdown in trade, as are revenues from exports of raw materials. Gabon is hit by the oil crisis (as an OPEC member producing 0.2 million barrels per day) and timber exports are also suffering. On the other hand, manganese, of which the country is one of the world's main producers, is relatively unscathed for the time being.
However, like many countries, Gabon will be compensated by additional multilateral aid from the IMF and the World Bank, and bilateral aid, from the European Union and China.
On April 3, the Head of State announced a massive aid plan of 250 billion CFA francs to support the population and businesses. If that plan is to succeed, a moratorium on the repayment of foreign aid and recourse to more loans will be inevitable. It should be noted that at the end of 2019, the country’s debt was equivalent to 60% of GDP.
According to economists, overcoming the crisis might need as much as 8% of the GDP in new funding. As in Europe and everywhere else in the world, the central bank has a decisive role to play.
What are the main measures expected from the authorities?
Add new comment