Gabon expects 7 pct GDP growth in 2013-Econmin

LONDON Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:39am EST

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LONDON Nov 30 (Reuters) - Gabon's economy will expand by 7 percent in 2013, supported by double-digit growth in the non-oil sector, the energy-exporting country's economy minister told Reuters.

"We have 7 percent for three years - 2011, 2012, 2013," Luc Oyoubi said on Thursday.

"For 2013, we think that oil will decline, but non-oil GDP will certainly be very high. Still more than 10 percent."

That estimate is far more optimistic than the one given by the International Monetary Fund, which last month predicted Gabon's economic growth slowing to 2.3 percent next year from an expected 5.6 percent in 2012.

Oyoubi however said the non-oil economy was expanding strongly thanks to the government's infrastructure programme which includes building roads and housing and he said that would push overall growth to 7 percent.

Gabon issued a $1 billion Eurobond in 2007, one of the few sub-Saharan African countries to do so, but the minister said the government had not yet decided whether to return to global capital markets next year.

Oil accounts for 45 percent of the former OPEC member's GDP. With an estimated population of just 1.5 million, Gabon has one of Africa's highest per capital GDP levels.

Gabon's energy minister told Reuters on Thursday that oil production would rise next year to 230,000 barrels per day. (Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; editing by Ron Askew)

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