Economy of Mauritania

A majority of the population of Mauritania depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for almost 50% of total exports. The decline in world demand for this ore, however, has led to cutbacks in production. With the current rise in metal prices, gold and copper mining companies are opening mines in the interior.

The nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue. The country's first deep water port opened near Nouakchott in 1986.

In recent years, drought and economic mismanagement have resulted in a buildup of foreign debt. In March 1999, the government signed an agreement with a joint World Bank-International Monetary Fund mission on a $54 million enhanced structural adjustment facility (ESAF). The economic objectives have been set for 1999–2002. Privatization remains one of the key issues.

Economy of Mauritania
Tidjikja-Dates market
A market place in Tidjikja
Calendar Year
Trade organisations
AU, African Development Bank, World Bank, IMF, WTO, Group of 77
GDPIncrease $7.824 billion (PPP) (2012 est.)
Rank: 157 (2012 est.)
GDP growth
1.4% (2015), 2.0% (2016),
3.5% (2017e), 3.6% (2018f) [1]
GDP per capita
$2,200 (PPP) (2012 est.)
Rank: 190 (2012 est.)
GDP by sector
agriculture (14.9%)
industry (48.0%)
services (37.1%) (2012 est.)
Increase 6.5% (2012 est.)
Population below poverty line
40% (2004 est.)
39 (2000)
Labour force
1.318 million (2007)
Labour force by occupation
agriculture (50.0%)
industry (2%)
services (48%) (2001 est.)
Unemployment30% (2008 est.)
Main industries
mining (iron ore, gold, copper, gypsum), petroleum, fish processing
160th (2017)[2]
ExportsIncrease $2.66 billion (2012 est.)
Export goods
iron ore, petroleum, gold, copper, gypsum, fish
Main export partners
 China 48.6%
 Italy 7.5%
 Japan 7.0%
 Côte d'Ivoire 6.7%
 France 4.7%
 Spain 4.1% (2012 est.)[3]
ImportsIncrease $2.916 billion (2012 est.)
Import goods
machinery, petroleum products, food
Main import partners
 China 12.9%
 Netherlands 10.5%
 United States 7.8%
 France 7.7%
 Brazil 5.6%
 Germany 5.5%
 Spain 5.1%
 Belgium 4.7% (2012 est.)[4]
Increase $2.897 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Public finances
Revenues$1.143 billion (2012 est.)
Expenses$1.263 billion (2012 est.)
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.
2006Mauritanian exports
Mauritanian exports in 2006

Macro-economic trend

This is a chart of trend of gross domestic product of Mauritania at market prices estimated by the International Monetary Fund with figures in millions of Mauritanian Ougulyas.

Year Gross Domestic Product US Dollar Exchange Inflation Index (2000=100)
1980 37,211 45.93 Ouguiyas 23
1985 60,197 77.07 Ouguiyas 36
1990 97,819 80.64 Ouguiyas 52
1995 158,443 129.76 Ouguiyas 73
2000 258,245 240.00 Ouguiyas 100
2005 514,642 265.55 Ouguiyas 144

Current GDP per capita of Mauritania grew 82% in the Sixties reaching a peak growth of 166% in the Seventies. But this proved unsustainable and growth consequently scaled back to 14% in the Eighties. Finally, it shrank by 29% in the Nineties. Mean wages were $0.97 per man-hour in 2009.

The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1980–2017.[5]

Year 1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
GDP in $
3.75 bil. 4.86 bil. 5.91 bil. 8.32 bil. 10.20 bil. 10.76 bil. 11.09 bil. 11.06 bil. 11.73 bil. 12.53 bil. 13.51 bil. 14.56 bil. 15.64 bil. 15.95 bil. 16.42 bil. 17.25 bil.
GDP per capita in $
1,880 2,118 2,235 2,731 3,453 3,545 3,556 3,454 3,571 3,720 3,911 4,116 4,321 4,304 4,328 4,444
GDP growth
... 9.8% −0.4% 9.0% 18.9% 2.8% 1.1% −1.0% 4.8% 4.7% 5.8% 6.1% 5.6% 0.8% 1.6% 3.2%
(in Percent)
... 6.5% 3.3% 12.1% 6.2% 7.2% 7.5% 2.2% 6.3% 5.7% 4.9% 4.1% 3.8% 0.5% 1.5% 2.3%
Government debt
(Percentage of GDP)
... ... 234% 155% 83% 73% 78% 90% 81% 72% 74% 71% 80% 98% 99% 91%


In 2007, mining industries accounted for well over 35 percent of the Mauritanian economy, with the fish industry so much as 54% (with big changes between these industries in the power relationship). Diversification of the economy into non-mining industries remains a long-term issue. Mauritania is a net importer of food, reportedly importing 70% of its domestic food needs.[6]

Dispute with Woodside Petroleum

In February 2006, the Mauritanian government denounced amendments to an oil contract made by former leader Maaouiya Ould Taya with Woodside Petroleum, an Australian company. In 2004, Woodside had agreed to invest $US 600 million in developing Mauritania's Chinguetti offshore oil project. The controversial amendments, which Mauritanian authorities declared had been signed "outside the legal framework of normal practice, to the great detriment of our country", could cost Mauritania up to $200 million a year, according to BBC News. Signed by Woodside two weeks after the February 1, 2005 legislation authorizing the four amendments, they provided for a lower state quota in the profit-oil, and reduced taxes by 15 percent in certain zones. They also eased environmental constraints, and extended the length and scope of the exploitation and exploration monopoly, among other measures.

The disputed amendments were signed by former oil minister Zeidane Ould Hmeida in February 2004 and March 2005. Hmeida was arrested in January 2006 on charges of "serious crimes against the country's essential economic interests".

Nouakchott's authorities declared that the government would likely seek international arbitration, which Woodside (which operated for Hardman, BG Group, Premier Oil, ROC Oil, Fusion, Petronas, Dana Petroleum, Energy Africa and the Hydrocarbons Mauritanian Society) also contemplated.

Discovered in 2002, Chinguetti has proven reserves of about 120,000,000 barrels (19,000,000 m3) of oil. At the end of December 2005, authorities estimated that in 2006, the oil profits would be 47 billion ouguiyas (about US$180 million) and represent a quarter of the state budget, according to RFI.[7]

Some U.S. oil companies are alleged to be playing a part in Mauritania's oil related corruption.[8]

See also


  1. ^ "World Bank forecast for Mauritania, June 2018 (p. 153)" (PDF). World Bank. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Ease of Doing Business in Mauritania". Retrieved 2017-01-24.
  3. ^ "Export Partners of Mauritania". CIA World Factbook. 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  4. ^ "Import Partners of Mauritania". CIA World Factbook. 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  5. ^ "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects". Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  6. ^ IRIN 2008, 'MAURITANIA: Record hunger predicted in 2008',, 19 March. Retrieved on 20 March 2008.
  7. ^ "Mauritania and firm row over oil". BBC News. 2006-02-06."Crise ouverte avec la compagnie pétrolière Woodside". Radio France International. 2006-02-06.
  8. ^ Looking Glass News. "Mauritanian coup has Bush administration[sic]/Big Oil fingerprints". Looking Glass News. Retrieved 2010-03-29.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website

External links

Coordinates: 21°17′43″N 15°54′27″W / 21.29528°N 15.90750°W

Agriculture in Mauritania

Located in the Sahelian and Saharan zones, Mauritania has one of the poorest agricultural bases in West Africa. Most important to the rural economy has been the livestock subsector. Between 1975 and 1980, herding engaged up to 70 percent of the population, and sedentary farmers constituted about 20 percent of the population. The vast majority of the population lived in the southern one-third of the country, where rainfall levels were high enough to sustain cattle herding. Farming was restricted to the narrow band along the Senegal River where rainfall of up to 600 millimeters per year and annual river flooding sustained crop production as well as large cattle herds. In the dry northern two-thirds of the country, herding was limited to widely scattered pastoral groups that raised camels, sheep, and goats, and farming was restricted to date palms and minuscule plots around oases.

A major reason for Mauritania's economic stagnation since the mid-1970s has been the decline of its rural sector. Government planners neglected both herding and farming until the 1980s, concentrating instead on development in the modern sector. The rural sector was severely affected by droughts from 1968 through 1973 and from 1983 through 1985, and it has suffered from sporadic dry spells in other years. In the 1960s, livestock and crop production together provided 35 to 45 percent of GDP (at constant 1982 prices). From 1970 to 1986, their contribution to GDP (at constant 1982 prices) averaged 28 percent, with herding accounting for about 20 percent of this figure and with crop production falling to as low as 3 to 5 percent in the worst drought years. Millet and sorghum production reached 10,000 and 75,000 tons, respectively, in 1999. Other crop production in 1999 included paddy rice, 102,000 tons; and corn, 8,000 tons. Date production was 22,000 tons in 1999.

The Mauritanian government is facilitating agricultural development of the Senegal River valley. The OMVS began in 1981 to build a dam at Manantali, in Mali, for purposes of river transport, irrigation, and hydroelectric power. Mauritania initiated an irrigation and development scheme in 1975 for the Gorgol River valley where the dam would increase arable land by over 3,600 ha (9,000 acres). This project was to be followed by other dams that together would add 30,000 ha (74,100 acres) for food production. Another OMVS project, begun in 1981, was designed to prevent salt water from entering the fertile Senegal River delta. Between 1989 and 1991, the Mauritanian government sought to rationalize agricultural production.

Central Bank of Mauritania

The Central Bank of Mauritania (French: Banque Centrale de Mauritanie, BCM) is the central bank of Mauritania, in northwest Africa. The bank is located in the capital Nouakchott, just south of the presidential palace. Its governor is Ould Abdel Aziz Dahi.

Geology of Mauritania

The geology of Mauritania is built on more than two billion year old Archean crystalline basement rock in the Reguibat Shield of the West African Craton, a section of ancient and stable continental crust. Mobile belts and the large Taoudeni Basin formed and filled with sediments in the connection with the Pan-African orogeny mountain building event 600 million years ago and a subsequent orogeny created the Mauritanide Belt. In the last 251 million years, Mauritania has accumulated additional sedimentary rocks during periods of marine transgression and sea level retreat. The arid country is 50% covered in sand dunes and has extensive mineral resources, although iron plays the most important role in the economy.


The khoums (Arabic: خمس‎, "fifth") is the subdivisory unit of the Mauritanian monetary system, the Ouguiya. Five khoums make an ouguiya, hence one khoums can be expressed as 0.2 ouguiya.

When the ouguiya was adapted in 1973, it replaced the CFA franc as 5 francs to the ouguiya, thus a khoums was equal to the franc. As the franc had no subdivisional unit, all wealths in francs could be converted to ouigiya with no rounding. On the khoums coin (minted in Kremnica Mint, Slovakia), the obverse is in Arabic with the date of the Islamic calendar and the reverse in French in the Gregorian calendar with national arms on each side, identical to all other Mauritanian coins. However, on the Arabic side, instead of a number like on the other coins, the word خمس is used.The khoums is one of only two subdivisions of currency that are not in a multiple of ten, the other being the Malagasy iraimbilanja, also based on the franc.

As of November 2018, the value of one khoums is about US$0.0055.

List of Mauritanian regions by Human Development Index

This is a list of regions of Mauritania by Human Development Index as of 2017. An HDI value is calculated for the Trarza Region and the city of Nouakchott (comprising the regions of Nouakchott-Nord, Nouakchott-Ouest and Nouakchott-Sud since 2014) combined.

List of banks in Mauritania

This is a list of commercial banks in Mauritania

BNP Paribas (BNP)

Société Générale (SGM)

Chinguitty Bank

Banque pour le Commerce et l'Investissement en Mauritanie (BACIM)

Banque El Amana (BEA)

Banque Al Wava Mauritanienne Islamique (BAMIS)

Générale de Banque de Mauritanie (GBM)

Banque pour le Commerce et l'Investissement (BCI)

Banque Mauritanienne pour le Commerce International (BMCI)

Banque Nationale de Mauritanie (BNM)

List of companies of Mauritania

Mauritania, officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a country in western North Africa. Despite being rich in natural resources, Mauritania has one of the lowest GDP rates in Africa. A majority of the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for almost 50% of total exports. With the current rises in metal prices, gold and copper mining companies are opening mines in the interior.

Mauritania Railway

The Mauritania Railway is the national railway of Mauritania. Opened in 1963, it consists of a single, 704-kilometre (437 mi) railway line linking the iron mining centre of Zouerate with the port of Nouadhibou, via Fderik and Choum. The state agency Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière (National Mining and Industrial Company, SNIM) controls the railway line.

Since the closure of the Choum Tunnel, a 5 km (3.1 mi) section of the railway cuts through the Polisario Front-controlled part of the Western Sahara (21.354867°N 13.012644°W / 21.354867; -13.012644).

Mauritanian ouguiya

The ouguiya (sign: UM; Arabic: أوقية‎; currency code: MRU), also spelled "ougiya", is the currency of Mauritania. Each ouguiya constitutes five khoums (singular and plural in English, Arabic: خمس‎, meaning "one fifth"). As such it is one of two circulating currencies, along with the Malagasy ariary, whose division units are not based on a power of ten.

The current ouguiya was introduced in 2018, replacing the old ouguiya at a rate of 1 new ouguiya = 10 old ouguiya, which in turn replaced the CFA franc at a rate of 1 old ouguiya = 5 francs.

The name "Ouguiya" (أوقية) is the Hassaniya Arabic pronunciation of "Awqiyyah" (أُوقِية), meaning "ounce".

Mining in Mauritania

Mauritania's mineral sector was dominated by iron ore mining and beneficiation. Other mineral commodities produced in the country included cement, copper, gold, gypsum, petroleum, salt, and steel. The Ministère des Mines et de l’Industrie was the Government agency responsible for enacting the Mining Code and for the coordination of all activities in the mining sector. The Direction des Mines et de la Géologie was the entity responsible for promoting the mineral sector and for providing geologic and mining information to potential investors; the Direction des Hydrocarbures was in charge of the development of the petroleum sector; and the Office Mauritanien des Recherches Géologiques was the Government entity responsible for evaluating areas of mineral potential for exploration. Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière (SNIM) was responsible for iron ore production and benefciation.In 2007, the total value of exports from Mauritania was estimated to be about $1.5 billion. Excluding fish exports, which amounted to $254 million, all the main export categories were either mining or hydrocarbon products. Iron ore exports, which were valued at $575 million, represented about 38% of the country’s total exports; crude oil exports were valued at $339 million and accounted for 23%; copper exports were valued at $184 million and accounted for about 13%; and gold exports were valued at $59 million and accounted for 4% of total exports.All mineral commodity production increased during the year with the exception of crude petroleum, which decreased by about 51% to 5,487,000 barrels (872,400 m3) compared with 11,168,000 barrels (1,775,600 m3) in 2006. Cement production increased by 14.6% to 409,513 metric tons (t) compared with a revised 357,239 t in 2006. Gypsum production increased by 8.9%; iron ore production, by 6.8%; salt production, by about 35.5%; and

crude steel production, by about 4.2%. The sharp increase in copper and gold production was owing to the opening of the Guelb Mohgrein Mine in late 2006.Mining, which was one of the country’s most important sectors to the national economy, contributed about 12% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and represented more than one-half of the country’s export earnings in 2005. according to the Ministère des Mines et de l’industrie (MMi), the development, diversification, and promotion of the mining sector have become the government’s priority in recent years. the number of foreign companies applying for prospecting licenses was increasing, and projects were at various stages ranging from grassroots exploration to mine development.

Outline of Mauritania

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Mauritania:

Mauritania – sovereign country located in West Africa. Mauritania is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, by Senegal on the southwest, by Mali on the east and southeast, by Algeria on the northeast, and by the Morocco-controlled Western Sahara on the northwest. It is named after the ancient Berber kingdom of Mauretania. The capital and largest city is Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast.

Flag of Mauritania.svg Economy of Mauritania
Sovereign states
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Dependencies and
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