Mauritania flag Mauritania: Economic and Political Overview

The economic context of Mauritania

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Mauritania's GDP growth is considerably exposed to fluctuations in global mineral commodity prices given the large share of extractive industries in the country's economy. After contracting by 1.8% in 2020 following the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the economy rebounded by an estimated 2.7% in 2021, underpinned by the resumption of public and private investment and structural reforms. The IMF expects growth to reach 5% this year and to accelerate to 8.6% in 2023, as exports and domestic demand continue to gradually improve. However, the slowdown in Chinese demand will probably hamper iron ore exports, as prices are expected to moderate.

The performance of the economy will depend on the continuation of current reforms in the sectors of agriculture, port infrastructure, business climate and on increased production in the extractive sector following the expansion of the country’s gold mines. The Covid-19 outbreak prompted large financing needs and the country received larger loans from the IMF than initially envisaged. IMF loans were complemented by international donor financing, which overall contained the budget deficit to 1.7% of GDP in 2021 despite the pandemic. As revenues from mining and fiscal receipts will continue to benefit from the economic recovery, the deficit is expected to narrow to 0.6% of GDP in 2022 (Coface). The debt-to-GDP ratio decreased to 55.4% in 2021 (from 59.2% one year earlier), and is forecast to increase slightly to 57.6%  this year and the next (IMF), as the end of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) will translate into higher debt servicing costs. Nevertheless, in 2021 Mauritania found an agreement with Saudi Arabia for the suspension of USD 8.2 million of debt payments, and Kuwait (restructuring of USD 82.7 million). Inflation accelerated by 0.4%in 2021, reaching 2.7%, and is expected to spike to 3.8% in 2022 and 4% the following year, as per the IMF forecasts.

Overall, the government will need to modernise the country and to support education and industrial diversification to limit its dependence on raw material prices fluctuations (iron, copper, gold, quartz, cattle, and fish). To this extent, authorities have elaborated an inclusive growth strategy for the period 2017-30, planning structural reforms and significant investment in infrastructure. The three pillars of this investment strategy are inclusive economic growth, human capital development and governance improvement. The country's unemployment rate was estimated at 11.3% in 2020 (World Bank, latest data available), with more than 16.6% of the population living below the extreme poverty line according to Oxfam.

 
Main Indicators 20202021 (e)2022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 8.619.8910.0910.4811.95
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -0.92.44.04.88.1
GDP per Capita (USD) 22222
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 55.851.750.751.647.6
Inflation Rate (%) 2.33.87.17.85.8
Current Account (billions USD) -0.58-0.93-1.17-0.95-0.95
Current Account (in % of GDP) -6.7-9.4-11.6-9.1-7.9

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Vast desert bordered to the west by the 700km-long Atlantic coast, to the east by the desert border with Mali and to the south by the Senegal River, Mauritania has long-lived of its key resources of iron ore and fishery products, its main production sectors. The country also has large deposits of gold and copper and many oil-gas fields have been discovered in recent years. The primary sector represents 18.1% of the GDP and employs over 30.8% of the workforce (World Bank, latest data available). The country possesses iron mines and its maritime coasts have some of the world's largest fish reserves. While Mauritania produces millet, sorghum, dates and rice, domestic cereal production only meets about one-third of the national food needs, forcing reliance on imports, especially for sorghum, millet and wheat. Farming, practised by Mauritanian nomads, is also an important area of activity.

The country has mineral, oil and gas resources, which is an expanding market. Regarding the production of liquefied natural gas, an agreement has been reached with Senegal on equal distribution of revenues from operating the Grande Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) offshore project, where the first production is expected by 2023, having been delayed by more than a year. The secondary sector (including construction) contributes to 27.6% of the country's GDP and employs 17.6% of its workforce. The manufacturing sector alone accounts for 6% of GDP.

The tertiary sector represents more than 44.1% of the GDP and employs 51.6% of the workforce. The main sub-sectors are transport and telecommunications.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 30.8 17.6 51.6
Value Added (in % of GDP) 18.1 27.6 44.1
Value Added (Annual % Change) -0.3 0.4 -3.0

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.}}

Score:
56,1/100
World Rank:
128
Regional Rank:
23

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.
 

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Development
Statistical Office
National Statistical Institute (in French)
Central Bank
Central Bank of Mauritania (in French)
Stock Exchange
Economic Portals
Mauritania Internet Guide (In French)
 

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Latest Update: November 2022