Mauritania Economy Part III

By | May 16, 2021

Energy mix 2019

Energy source in %
Hydropower 17th
Thermal power stations 62
Wind energy 10
solar power 10

Mauritania is the country with the highest share of renewable energy in Africa. Several wind and solar energy projects have been implemented.

The Sheikh Zayed solar power plant in Nouakchott with a capacity of 15 MW was for a long time the largest plant in Mauritania. In Toujounine A new facility with a capacity of 50 MW and 157,000 solar panels is being built north of Nouakchott. There are other plants in Atar, Zouérat and Chami.

In November 2015 it will be in Nouakchottthe first commercial wind turbine completed. 15 wind turbines have a capacity of 30 MW. A 100 MW wind turbine is being built in Boulenouar near Nouadhibou, which will be the largest in West Africa when it is completed in 2020.

The state-owned mining company SNIM has put a 4 MW wind power plant in Nouadhibou and a 3 MW solar plant in Zouérate into operation.

The International Organization for Renewable Energies (IRENA) estimates the total increase in electricity demand by 2030 to be up to 600%. According to ezinereligion, Mauritania will have to increase its energy generation activities significantly.

To realize the full potential of its vast renewable energy resources, Mauritania faces three main challenges: the lack of a deployment strategy, the lack of a legal framework and the lack of human capital to support the technology.

Construction and telecommunications

Construction and telecommunications are important growth areas and have achieved a steadily growing share of GDP in recent years.


Tourism in Mauritania has almost come to a complete standstill after the attacks by Islamist terrorists on French tourists and the kidnapping of Spanish development workers. The cancellation of the Paris-Dakar Rally 2008 was the most visible sign. In addition, there are travel warnings from the foreign ministries of most western countries. There is hardly any tourist infrastructure.

For 2015 income from tourism in the amount of US $ 42 million is reported; this corresponds to 0.6% of GDP.

The weakening of the travel warning issued by the French Foreign Ministry in March 2017 raises hopes that tourists will return, particularly in the old caravan towns of Chinguetti and Ouadane. Hopes seem to be fulfilled, because tourist groups from Europe have been coming regularly since Christmas 2017. In the 2017/2018 season, Sahara tourism is making progress.

Tourism in Mauritania

Business climate and direct investment

Investments are not a sure-fire success. In the Doing Business Index 2020, Mauritania ranks 152 out of 190 countries. This means that Mauritania has once again improved by 2 places after a jump from 10 places in 2018. See also the Index of Economic Freedom of the Heritage Foundation, the Economic Freedom report of the Fraser Institute and the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum.

In a ranking of African countries in terms of average foreign direct investment, Mauritania ranks 21st out of 51st. The economic crisis of 2014/2015 led to a dramatic decline in direct investment, which has been falling since 2015.

It is hoped that a new investment code, which was developed together with the UN development program, and the shortened and simplified investment procedures at the request of the IMF are expected to have positive effects.

Foreign trade

The Mauritanian trade balance is chronically in deficit. Regional trade activities are low. Mauritania has been a member of the Arab Maghreb Union, the economic organization of the Maghreb states, since 1989. Intra-regional trade is low due to the strong protectionist economies. Trade with the ECOWAS countries is developing better, although Mauritania has not been a member of this organization since 2000. The commercial activities develop through strong Mauritanian minorities in the member states. In the first half of 2017, only 4% of Mauritanian exports went to Africa (2016: 10%); 75% of them to Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

The most important destination countries for Mauritanian exports in the first half of 2017 were the PR China (39.1%) and Switzerland (15.9%), followed by Spain (11.1%) and Italy (7.4%). More than 95% of Mauritanian exports are delivered to Europe (47.5%) and Asia (47.8%). The most important products are mineral raw materials 62% (2016: 57.8%) and fish 37.8% (2015: 41.8%).

The European and Asian countries are also the main suppliers with a share of 72.1%. The most important supplier countries in the first half of 2017 were South Korea (31.2%), the UAE (7%), the Netherlands (5.5%), Spain (5.2%) and the USA (4%). The most important products are equipment goods 58.7% (2016: 37.8%), crude oil and petroleum products 14.2% (2016: 19.6%) and food 11.1% (2016: 17.1%). The delivery of equipment goods from South Korea, which accounts for more than 30% of imports, has a major influence on the most important supplier countries and also on the composition of imports according to product groups.

African suppliers are insignificant with a share of 4.6%; Morocco alone has a share of 2.5%.

The Federal Republic of Germany is of little importance as a trading partner, but the Mauritanian trade balance with Germany is positive in the first half of 2017. Mauritania delivers 5% of its exports to Germany and only 0.6% of its imports come from it.

As of January 1, 2019, the US will suspend trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) due to inaction on the slavery problem.

Further information on Mauritanian foreign trade is available from UN Comtrade and the national statistical office.

Economic indicators, analysis, statistics

The Gross Domestic Product of Mauritania grew from 2,010 to 2,014 annually by an average of 5.8%. In 2014, growth of 6.6% was achieved and was thus above 5% for the fourth time in a row. Sharply falling raw material prices led to a slump in 2015/2016. In 2017 the economy recovered and grew again by 3.5%. The World Bank predicts further growth.

You can also find more information on the country’s economic development at the following links:

  • Mauritanian Ministry of Finance
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • African Development Bank
  • UN Economic Commission for Africa
  • German Trade & Invest (GTAI)