Skip to Main Navigation


Mauritania is essentially a desert country, with vast expanses of pastoral land and only 0.5% of arable land. The population is about 4.8 million (2021), and the density of 4 inhabitants per square kilometer makes it one of the least densely populated countries in the world. Further, more than half of Mauritanians live in urban areas (56%) (2021).

Political Context

Mauritania political cycle will end by mid-2024. Prime Minister Mohamed Ould Bilal, who took office in August 2020, has been leading the implementation of President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani’s Programme prioritaire élargi du Président de la République. The Program integrated the response plan to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on resilient recovery.

Economic Overview

  • Growth accelerated from 2.4% in 2021 to 5.2% in 2022 supported by higher exports on the demand side, and the expansion of the agricultural sector on the supply side. In 2023, economic growth is projected to decelerate to 4.5%, driven by lower growth in the extractive industry, resulting from lower production of iron ore and gold, as well as lower agricultural output. The annual average inflation reached 9.5% in 2022 and is expected to decrease to 8.0% in 2023, as external pressure on prices subsides.
  • The overall fiscal balance registered a deficit of 3.5% of GDP in 2022 compared to a surplus of 2.2% of GDP in 2021. The debt to GDP ratio remained stable in 2022 and around 49%. The January 2023 joint IMF/WB’s Debt Sustainability Assessment suggests that the risk of overall and external public debt distress is moderate, down from high in the previous DSA, thanks to a recent debt restructuring and continued improvement in fiscal risk management. The fiscal deficit is expected to decrease to 2.3% of GDP in 2023, supported by lower current expenditure, whereas debt to GDP ratio should slightly increase to 49.6%.
  • The current account deficit is estimated to have widened to 13.9% of GDP in 2022, up from 8.1% of GDP in 2021, due to high energy and food import prices, and lower export prices. The deficit is expected to be financed by Foreign Direct Investment in the extractive industry and concessional borrowing.

Medium-Term Outlook

The medium-term outlook is broadly favorable but subject to downside risks. Growth should average 6.2% of GDP in 2024-2025, with the onset of gas production in 2024, and a scale up of public investment. The fiscal deficit is expected to gradually narrow as revenue collection improves and spending related to energy subsidies decreases. Average inflation is expected to gradually fall to 5% by 2025, as international commodity prices drop. Risks to the outlook include a protracted Russia war in Ukraine with additional negative spillovers on real, fiscal, and external sectors. Sustained high oil and food prices, combined with volatile commodity exports prices pose additional risks that could slow down economic activity and increase food insecurity. Regional insecurity in the Sahel is another source of risk. Mauritania is also exposed to recurring cycles of droughts resulting from climate change and that impact agricultural output and household income.

Social Context

COVID-19 negative impacts on the economy had repercussions on the labor market and on the living conditions and well-being of the population. Poverty is estimated to have increased due to the pandemic, reaching 6.3% in 2022.

According to Mauritania’s Human Capital Index (HCI), a child born today will only achieve 38% of his/her productivity in adulthood. Expected years of school adjusted for effective learning are 4.2 years per child on average, while 23% of children are stunted, against a background of relatively low public spending on health and education. Social Assistance spending is high for the region (7.5% of GDP), and the existing safety nets programs reach 47% of the poorest quintile of the population - one of the highest coverages in the region. (Also see ‘Results’ section.)

Last Updated: Mar 20, 2023

In Depth

  • The World Bank
    Apr 05, 2023

    Africa’s Pulse

    Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is set to slow from 3.6% in 2022 to 3.1% in 2023.

  • cpia
    Sep 12, 2023

    CPIA Africa

    The 2023 Africa Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) report covers the period January to December 2022. The overall average score for Sub-Saharan Africa’s IDA-eligible countries remained unchanged in 2022 ...

  • MAdagascar Hoel

    IDA in Africa

    With IDA’s help, hundreds of millions of people have escaped poverty—through the creation of jobs, access to clean water, schools, roads, nutrition, electricity, and more.

  • The World Bank

    World Bank Africa Multimedia

    Watch, listen and click through the latest videos, podcasts and slideshows highlighting the World Bank’s work in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
Thiane Dia
Executive Assistant
Lot N. 02 F Nord Liaison Ksar
BP 667
Nouakchott, Mauritania
TEL.: (+222) 45 25 10 17
TEL.: (+222) 45 25 13 59
FAX.: (+222) 45 25 13 34
For general information and inquiries
Loana Billeux
+222 45 25 10 17
For project-related issues and complaints