Building capacity to help Africa trade better




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Key Facts

  • Capital: Nouakchott
  • Region: North Africa
  • Official languages: Arabic
  • Independence Day: November 28, 1960
  • Area: 1,026,700 sq km
  • Population (2018): 4.4 million
  • REC membership: AMU, CEN-SAD
  • WTO membership: May 31, 1995
  • GDP (2018): US$ 5.235 billion
  • GNI per capita (2018): US$ 1 160
  • Currency: Mauritanian Ouguiya

Economic overview

Real GDP growth in 2019 is estimated at 6.7%, up from 3.6% in 2018, thanks to increased production in extractive industries (12.2% in the first quarter of 2019) and a rise in exports in the fishing sector (5% in the first quarter).

Despite a year-on-year rise of 0.5 percentage point driven by higher prices for food products, inflation remains within the price stability objective (4%) and is estimated at 3.0% for 2019. The budget deficit, after a surplus of 1.6% of GDP in 2018, is estimated at 0.1% of GDP in 2019. Debt fell from 102.3% of GDP in 2018 to 97.8% in 2019. The current account deficit improved from 18.6% of GDP in 2018 to 13% in 2019 as a result of rebounding exports of gold (up 26.6%) and copper (up 2%).

Mauritania continues its efforts toward sounder public finances and debt management. Progress has also been recorded in improving the business environment, boosting its Doing Business rank from 176 in 2015 to 150 in 2018 and 148 in 2019.

Growth is projected at 5.7% in 2020 and 5.9% in 2021. Following reforms initiated by the government since 2016, medium- and long-term growth prospects are positive, with public and private investments expected in the non-extractive sector. These reforms are part of the program supported by the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility and the national strategy for accelerated growth and shared prosperity 2016-30. Over 2016-19, the government focused on improving the business climate.

But weaknesses persist, and the government recognizes that implementing the reform program should be accelerated to make the business climate even more attractive to investors. A high council for improving the business climate created in February 2019, chaired by the Prime Minister, and including private sector representatives is coordinating the implementation of reforms and putting forward an annual action plan. For 2019, the action plan took into account the weaknesses highlighted in the latest Doing Business report, specifically those for access to electricity and the courts.

Economic growth is volatile and dependent on mineral prices (iron, gold, and copper represented 50% of total exports in 2017). Foreign direct investment is mainly in the extractive industry.

According to the 2019 Human Development Report, Mauritania remains in the category of countries with low human development, ranking 161 of 188 countries. And according to the latest World Bank Enterprise Survey, 46.5% of companies in the industrial sector identify a poorly educated workforce as a major constraint.

Last updated: April 2020


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