Germany’s political relations with Gabon are untroubled. The two countries cooperate closely in international organisations. Germany opened an embassy in Libreville in 1962. Gabon frequently supports German interests within the United Nations and other international organisations. A joint German-Gabonese resolution to combat illicit wildlife trafficking, which also carries weight in terms of security policy, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015.
In November 2017, Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba, along with seven other African Heads of State, had a nearly hour-long meeting in Bonn with Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in connection with the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23).
There is still much unexploited potential in economic relations between Germany and Gabon. Gabon is rich in natural resources and is seeking to diversify its industrial sector, which has so far been dominated by timber and oil exports. At present, however, implementation of this policy is being hindered by financial constraints triggered by the fall in the price of oil on the world market. So far, only a few German companies have been active in Gabon, in the country’s health care, timber, service and infrastructure sectors. The country’s orientation towards France, which remains strong, as well as its limited market size, shortage of skilled labour, high production and living costs, continued widespread corruption and a public procurement system that sometimes lacks transparency, make it difficult for foreign companies to enter the local market. As a middle-income country, Gabon does not benefit from German bilateral development cooperation.
There is great interest in learning German in Gabon: some 5000 students are taught German as a second foreign language at 27 schools. In January 2010, a German Department was established at the Université Omar Bongo in Libreville. There are now more than 100 students enrolled in the department at the state university. There are currently two higher education partnerships. Since 1982, the Gabonese Government has awarded scholarships enabling students to study in Germany, where they mainly pursue scientific disciplines. There are a total of approximately 200 young Gabonese studying in Germany. The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tübingen runs a research centre for tropical diseases in Lambaréné, which focuses on malaria research but has recently also been engaged in the development of an Ebola vaccine. There is an intensive exchange of students, researchers and academics.