Since independence from France in 1960, Chad, a landlocked country in central Africa, has been plagued by instability from internal rivalries between ethnic groups, conflicts in neighboring countries, and the impact of climate change through desertification and the drying up of Lake Chad.
President Idriss Deby Itno and his party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement, have dominated Chadian politics since ascending to power in 1990. Deby won the 1996 elections—the first multi-party elections held in Chad—as well as the 2001, 2006, and 2011 elections. The electoral processes during these elections have, however, been controversial. While the opposition contested the results each time, its voice became louder during the last elections as civil society organizations joined to protest austerity measures. Although the term of the current legislature ended in March 2015, Deby has announced a further postponement of parliamentary elections for "budgetary reasons”.
Deby was sworn-in for a fifth term in August 2016 during a public ceremony attended by 14 heads of state. Earlier in 2016, a special criminal court in Dakar, Senegal, had found Chad’s former president, Hissene Habre, guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to imprisonment for life.
Chad joined the list of oil-producing countries in 2003 and since then its economy has been heavily dependent on oil. The economy, previously agrarian, saw per capita GDP grow from about $220 in 2001/02 (less than half of the average in Sub-Saharan Africa) to approximately $1,024 in 2014.
However, the 2014 drop in oil price and the deterioration of the security situation led to a deeper recession in 2016, with poverty expected to rise to 39.8% by 2019. These changes reflect fiscal austerity and consequent cuts in public services, and loss of income caused by the disruption of cross-border trade in livestock. These trends were partially offset by modest increases in agriculture, which constitutes the primary sector of employment for nearly 3/4 of Chad’s working age population.
Despite severe fiscal adjustment, the overall fiscal deficit (cash basis) increased slightly from 4.4% of non-oil GDP in 2014 to 4.6% in 2016 financed primarily through treasury bonds in the regional debt market, IMF disbursement, and budget support from donors. A recent increase in domestic debt has led to risks in debt sustainability. Hard currency rationing and substantial fiscal consolidation have reduced the external current account deficit. However, Chad’s international reserves continue to fall, representing barely a month’s worth of imports.
Short- and Medium-Term Outlooks
In the short-term, the government needs to raise more fiscal revenues while reducing expenditure. Prospects are difficult because oil prices remain low, export volumes constrained, and the government needs to repay the Glencore oil sales advances.
In the medium-term, the establishment of a stabilization fund, economic diversification, and ways to mitigate regional security risks, as well as providing military escorts to secure selected trade corridors that allow movement of goods and people, need to remain high on the agenda. Instability in oil revenue complicates fiscal management and budgetary planning. Regional instability is affecting economic activity by impacting trade, public expenditure, and private investment.
In January 2015, Chadian troops joined Cameroonian and Nigerian to combat Boko Haram. Chad has been at the forefront of this operation to root out terrorism. Suicide bombings hit N’Djamena in June/July 2015, causing dozens of fatalities and injuries. Subsequent attacks have been sporadic.
As the military campaign continues, humanitarian issues have emerged. Chad is hosting about 400,000 refugees from Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), and Nigeria, all of whom represent about 4% of the country’s population. Returnees and internally displaced people also need humanitarian assistance. Host communities have shared their land, food, and houses and hope to see their lives improved as well. The plight of these people is exacerbated by the climate as changing weather patterns worsen their fate.
Chad is ranked 185 out of 188 countries, according to the 2015 United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI). Many Chadians still face severe deprivation, with most of the Millennium Development Goals not met by 2015. Between 2003 and 2011, Chad achieved moderate but significant progress in poverty reduction, with the national poverty rate falling from 55% to 47%. However, with this current economic and financial crisis, poverty could increase. The absolute number of poor is projected to rise from 4.7 million to 6.3 million between 2012 and 2019.
Progress on non-monetary poverty presents a mixed picture, with gains in some areas offset by losses in others. According to the joint Demographic and Household Survey (DHS) and Multi-Indicators Clusters Surveys (MICS) undertaken in early 2015, infant mortality has decreased from 91% in 2005–2009 to 72% in 2010–2014. Child mortality has also decreased from 79% to 65%, while maternal mortality fell from 1,099 per 100,000 births to 860 per 100,000 births.
Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017