Mauritania is a desert country, with as little as 0.5% of its land considered arable. Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Senegal, Mali, Algeria and a disputed region of Morocco, it has a population of about 4.3 million (2016). Its population density of 3.9 inhabitants per square kilometer makes it the fourth least densely populated country in Africa.
After gaining its independence from France in1960, Mauritania enjoyed political stability until a military coup in July 1978 ousted its first president, Mokhtar Ould Daddah. A coup in August 2008 brought General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to power. He won
A total of 105 political parties took part in the parliamentary, regional, and commune-level elections held in September 2018; 25 of them won seats in Parliament and more than 35 won seats on regional and municipal councils. The Union for the Republic (Union pour la République, UPR) and its allies in the ruling majority hold 116 seats in the National Assembly, while the opposition holds 39, including 30 for Islamist party, Tawassoul. Two Assembly members have no party affiliation. The next presidential election will be held in 2019. President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz is constitutionally barred from running again.
Helped by a prudent fiscal policy and the gradual recovery of global mineral prices, Mauritania has emerged from a period of slow growth caused by falling commodity prices. Real GDP growth rose to 3.5% in 2017, up from 2% in 2016, pushed primarily by improved performances in the fishing, livestock, manufacturing, and commerce sectors. Given the population growth rate (about 3%), however, the pace of the economic recovery remains slow, with real per capita income
Budgetary tightening, coupled with a rebound in mining exports, has led to a drop in the current account deficit—from 15.8% of GDP in 2016 to 11% in 2017. This has reduced external financing pressures and kept central bank reserves stable at a level equivalent to 5.1 months of imports. The size of the deficit remains a structural challenge for macroeconomic policies in Mauritania, however, as does the concentration of external resources in extractives-related foreign direct investment and foreign borrowing for public investment.
The economic outlook remains favorable, despite a slowdown in growth. The growth rate is expected to be 3% in 2018, mainly as a result of the drought in the Sahel, which has affected agricultural production. Economic activity is projected to accelerate in 2019–2020, provided current reforms continue, especially in the agriculture and port infrastructure sectors. Those reforms are expected to help boost the productivity of the primary sector. The performance of the economy will also depend on reforms affecting the business climate and on increased production in the extractive sector following the expansion of the country’s gold mines.
Fiscal policy, guided by Mauritania’s program with the International Monetary Fund, should remain prudent in the medium term and generate a surplus in the primary balance (excluding grants) of 1.2% of GDP by 2020.
Finally, pressure on the external balance will likely be reduced by the rebound in exports of extractive and fishing products, which will also ease pressures on foreign exchange reserves.
Mauritania experienced sustained GDP growth from 2008 to 2014, accompanied by significant improvements in household welfare. The annual real growth in mean household expenditure per capita was 1.52%. All quantiles did well and there was a sharp decline in the proportion of
Despite the progress, though, some population groups have been left behind, and the country is still lagging behind too in many social dimensions. Poverty has not fallen in the capital, Nouakchott, probably because of migration to urban areas and because the capital tends to attract the poorest of the poor. Labor force participation and the employment rate have not improved, and groups that have not benefited from social progress, such as the youth, women, and low-income workers, are increasingly marginalized. Only 55% of children aged 6 to 11 are enrolled in primary school,
Last Updated: Jan 15, 2019