Mauritania is a desert country with only 0.5% of its land considered arable. Mauritania experienced robust GDP growth, averaging 5.5% between 2003 and 2015 when international commodity prices rose to historic levels. This marked improvement over the 1990s, when annual growth averaged only 2.7%. The gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an estimated 3.1% in 2015, down from 6.6% in 2014 due to negative terms of trade shock and a drop in mining and oil production. The current account deficit maintained its gradual recovery expected to continue until 2017, falling to 22.2% of GDP in 2015 from 30% in 2014. The 2014 survey on household living conditions (EPCVM) showed significant progress in poverty reduction, falling to 31% from 42% in 2008.
Why invest in Mauritania?
- An advantageous geo-strategic position at crossroads of Northern and sub-Saharan Africa and major shipping routes in the Atlantic between Europe, the Middle East, West Africa and the Americas;
- Investment opportunities in sectors of fishing and agro-industry with high added-value and
- Extractable reserves of oil, mining and gas with high potential for exploitation.
Mauritania enjoyed political stability since its independence in 1960 until a bloodless military coup in July 1978 ousted the first President Mokhtar Ould Daddah. The last coup, on August 6, 2008, brought to power General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. General Aziz won the recent two democratic elections and currently opened dialogue with the opposition to agree with the opposition on the way forward.
The country has a population of about 4.1 million people with a density of 3.9 inhabitants per square km that makes the country to fall among the least densely populated country in the whole of Africa.
In 2015 about 59.9% of total population lived in urban areas. The estimated annual rate of change for the period from 2010 to 2015 stood at 3.54%.
Doing business in
The highlights of World Bank score of doing business in Mauritania are summarised as follows;
|Topics||World Bank 2017 Rank||World Bank 2016 Rank||Change in Rank|
|Starting a Business||80||73||
|Dealing with Construction Permits||118||114||
|Protecting Minority Investors||123||162||37|
|Trading across Borders||137||139||2|
The government is the in process of creating conducive environment for doing business.
There are no legal or policy restrictions on the inflow or outflow of funds associated with investments but this is however subject to the availability of the required currencies. Foreigners working in Mauritania are also guaranteed the prompt transfer of their professional salaries.
The Mauritania has a judicial system for enforcement of agreements and settlement of disputes. The judicial system however lacks capacity to effectively carry out its mandate in two separate and distinct legal systems; Shari’a law and the French legal system. Judges lack training and experience in commercial and financial law under both legal systems. The government accepts international arbitration of investment disputes between foreign investors and government authorities. Judgments of foreign courts are accepted by the local courts, but enforcement is limited. In 1997 Mauritania became a signatory to the convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958 New York Convention).
Key development challenges
- The weak management of extractive rents (income) limits both the optimal and pro-poor use of revenue and impedes economic diversification.
- The failure to harness the full potential of Mauritania’s largest non-extractive natural endowments in livestock and fisheries constrains the country’s prospects for economic diversification and employment creation.
- The rapid and outpaced management of urbanization in Mauritania hinders the eventual emergence of productive and inclusive urban centres of growth.
Mauritania is the 142 least corrupt nation out of 175 countries and scored 27 out of 100 according to the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.
Security situation is not quite satisfactory and therefore travellers have to take extra care.
Unemployment and skilled labour
Current information is not readily available.
Attitude to Foreign Direct Investment
The current government has prioritized foreign investment to support the economic growth. The priority sectors for foreign investment include fishing, mining and hydrocarbon sectors. There is no law prohibiting or limiting foreign investment in any sector of the economy. The Investment Code was designed to encourage direct investment, enhance the security of investments and facilitate administrative procedures. The code also provides for free repatriation of foreign capital and wages for foreign employees.
Restrictions on Foreign investment
Mauritania has no discriminatory policies against foreign investment, imports, or exports. There are no laws or regulations which limit or prohibit foreign investment, participation, or control.
Intellectual Property (IP) Rights.
The legal protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) is still new concept in Mauritania with very little historical record of cases or legal structures in place to support it. Mauritania is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the African Organization of Intellectual Property (OAPI). Mauritania signed and ratified the WTO TRIPS (Trade Role on Intellectual Property and Service) agreement in 1994, but it has yet to implement it. The government also signed and ratified the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) treaties in 1976.
The natural resources include iron ore, oil, gold, quartz, copper, gypsum among others.
Information about investment climate in Mauritania has been summarized to include the following;
- Development Partners of Mauritania
- Double Taxation Treaties in Mauritania
- Exports of Mauritania
- Investment Authority of Mauritania
- Investment Guarantees in Mauritania
- Investment Incentives in Mauritania
- Investment opportunities in Mauritania
- Natural resources in Mauritania
- Trading partners of Mauritania
- Shipping Status
Sources of information