Mauritania flag Mauritania: Economic and Political Overview

The economic context of Mauritania

Economic Indicators

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Mauritania's GDP growth is considerably exposed to fluctuations in global mineral commodity prices given the large share of extractive industries in the country's economy. After contracting by 0.9% in 2020 following the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the economy rebounded by an estimated 2.4% in 2021. In 2022, economic growth accelerated and was estimated to reach 5.3%, driven primarily by the mining sector, agriculture, and fisheries (IMF), with a positive outlook over the forecast horizon as the IMF projects growth to reach 4.8% this year and 8.1% in 2024. However, the country remains vulnerable to shocks such as security risks in the Sahel region, the effects of the conflict in Ukraine, and drought-related threats that could result in lower economic activity and increased poverty.

The performance of the economy will depend on the continuation of current reforms in the areas of agriculture, port infrastructure, and business climate and on increased production in the extractive sector following the expansion of the country’s gold mines. Concerning public finances, the debt-to-GDP ratio decreased to 50.7% in 2022 (from 51.7% one year earlier), and is forecast to increase slightly to 51.6% this year, as the end of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) translated into higher debt servicing costs. In 2022, the IMF approved a 42-month arrangement of USD 86.9 million under the Extended Credit Facility and Extended Fund Facility with Mauritania, of which USD 21.7 million were made available immediately and the remaining amount will be phased in over the duration of the program, subject to semi-annual reviews. Inflation continued its upward trend throughout 2022, fuelled by rising energy and food prices, and reached an estimated 7.1%. Despite the Central Bank’s tight monetary policy, inflation is expected to remain high in 2023 (7.8%) before decreasing to around 5.8% the following year (IMF).

Overall, the government will need to modernise the country and support education and industrial diversification to limit its dependence on raw materials price fluctuations (iron, copper, gold, quartz, cattle, and fish). To this extent, authorities have elaborated an inclusive growth strategy for the period 2017-30, planning structural reforms and significant investment in infrastructure. The three pillars of this investment strategy are inclusive economic growth, human capital development and governance improvement. The country's unemployment rate was estimated at 11.3% in 2021, with around 6.3% of the population living in poverty (World Bank, latest data available). Mauritania is considered a lower-middle-income country, with a GDP per capita (PPP) estimated at USD 6,925 in 2022 by the IMF.

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 9.9010.3610.9111.6512.10
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 2,2852,3382,4082,5172,557
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 50.849.548.247.446.1
Inflation Rate (%) n/a7.
Current Account (billions USD) -1.52-1.02-1.21-0.98-0.83
Current Account (in % of GDP) -15.3-9.9-11.1-8.4-6.9

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Main Sectors of Industry

A vast desert bordered to the west by the 700km-long Atlantic coast, to the east by the desert border with Mali and to the south by the Senegal River, Mauritania has long-lived out of its key resources of iron ore and fishery products, its main production sectors. The country also has large deposits of gold and copper and many oil-gas fields have been discovered in recent years. The primary sector represents 18.6% of the GDP and employs nearly 31% of the workforce (World Bank, latest data available). Mauritania possesses iron mines and its maritime coasts have some of the world's largest fish reserves. The country has an estimated potential for 500,000 ha of arable land with high productivity averages, largely in the fertile southern areas bordering the Senegal River where irrigated agriculture is concentrated. While Mauritania produces millet, sorghum, dates and rice, domestic cereal production only meets about one-third of the national food needs, forcing reliance on imports, especially for sorghum, millet and wheat. Farming, practised by Mauritanian nomads, is also an important area of activity. The latest projections by the USDA for agricultural production in the 2022/23 season are as follows: rice 220k tonnes, sorghum 70k tonnes, and corn 15k tonnes.

The country has mineral, oil and gas resources, which is an expanding market. Regarding the production of liquefied natural gas, an agreement has been reached with Senegal on equal distribution of revenues from operating the Grande Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) offshore project, where the first production is expected by 2023, having been delayed by more than a year. Dominated by gold, iron (Mauritania being the second-largest African producer) and copper, the mining sector represents 24% of the country’s GDP and roughly 60% of its exports (data Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative). Overall, the secondary sector (including construction) contributes to 32.9% of the country's GDP and employs 18% of its workforce. The manufacturing sector alone accounts for around 5% of GDP.

The tertiary sector represents more than 44.1% of the GDP and employs 51.6% of the workforce. The main sub-sectors are transport and telecommunications. Despite the potential in tourism, the sector has yet to attract significant foreign investment due to a lack of infrastructure and regulatory frameworks. According to estimates by the French Ministry of Economy, the services sector was expected to grow 5.8% in 2022.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 29.5 18.9 51.7
Value Added (in % of GDP) 19.2 34.7 39.8
Value Added (Annual % Change) 4.0 7.7 4.5

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.


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Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.}}

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Development
Statistical Office
National Statistical Institute (in French)
Central Bank
Central Bank of Mauritania (in French)
Stock Exchange
Economic Portals
Mauritania Internet Guide (In French)

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Latest Update: December 2023

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