Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Chad, a landlocked country in central Africa, has been plagued by instability stemming from internal rivalries between ethnic groups, conflicts in neighboring countries, and the impacts 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 around, their voice became louder during the latest electoral process as civil society organizations joined them to protest austerity measures that followed the protracted economic crisis that has been crippling the country since 2015. Although the term of the current legislature ended in March 2015, parliamentary and municipal elections are expected sometime in 2017. Earlier in 2016, a special criminal court in Dakar, Senegal found former president Hissene Habre guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him for life.
President Idriss Deby Itno was sworn-in for a fifth term on August 8, 2016 in N’Djamena during a public ceremony attended by fourteen heads of state and many more foreign officials. He is currently chairing the African Union (January 2016 to January 2017).
Chad joined the list of oil-producing countries in 2003, and since then, its economy has become heavily dependent on oil. The Chadian economy, which was predominately agrarian, saw its gross domestic product per capita (GDP) grow from approximately $220 in 2001-2002 (less than half of the average in Sub-Saharan Africa) to approximately $1,024 in 2014.
However, the recent oil price collapse that started in 2015, the rainfall deficit, and the deterioration of the security situation have led to a recession, wiping out all the gains that led to reaching HIPC Completion Point in April 2015.
Despite expenditure cuts, domestic arrears reached 3.9% of non-oil GDP at end-2015. The ensuing large 2015 fiscal deficit was financed primarily through the rescheduling of oil-sale advances, the issuance of treasury bonds in the regional debt market, statutory advances from the Central Bank, IMF disbursement and budget supports from the World Bank, the European Union, and the African Development Bank (AfDB). The same institutions are planning another budget support for 2016 as the fiscal situation further worsened. Chad ranked 183 out of 189 on the 2016 Doing Business ranking.
Short and Medium Term Outlooks
In the short term, the government needs to raise more fiscal revenues while reducing expenditures. Prospects for the short-term are more difficult because oil prices continue to remain low, export volumes are 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 in an insecure environment need to remain high on the agenda. Instability in oil revenues complicates fiscal management and budgetary planning. Regional instability is affecting economic activity by impacting trade, public expenditures, and private investments.
In January 2015, Chadian troops joined Cameroonian and Nigerian troops to combat Boko Haram. Chad has been at the forefront of this operation to root out terrorism to help maintain stability, security, and peace in the region. Deadly suicide bombings hit N’Djamena in June and July 2015 causing dozens of fatalities and injured many more. 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. Other returnees and internally displaced people in significant numbers also need humanitarian assistance. Hosting communities have shared their land, food and houses on occasion and hope to see their lives improved as well. The plight of these people is exacerbated by the climatic conditions, as changing weather patterns are worsening 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 and most of the Millennium Development Goals were not met by 2015. Between 2003 and 2011, Chad achieved moderate but significant progress in overall poverty reduction, with the national poverty rate falling from 55% to 47% during the period. 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% during the period of 2005-2009 to 72% during the period of 2010-2014. Child mortality has also decreased from 79% to 65% over the same periods, while maternal mortality fell from 1,099 per 100,000 births to 860 per 100,000 births.
Last Updated: Oct 18, 2016