Loading centre of an iron ore company in Nouadhibou, Mauritania

Economic situation Lack of prospects for young people

Mauritania is rich in natural resources such as iron ore, copper, zinc, phosphate, gold, oil and natural gas. Furthermore, the country's coastline is one of the richest fishing grounds in the world.

Yet, the government has so far not managed to channel sufficient state revenue from the use of these resources into specific measures to reduce poverty so that the entire population can draw benefit from the country’s natural assets. This is where German development cooperation comes into play, promoting the development of sustainable value chains in the fishery and natural resource sectors.

COVID-19 pandemic causes economic downturn

Exporting raw materials is the focus of Mauritania's economy. It does not provide enough employment for the country's growing population; the manufacturing industry is poorly developed. State revenues are dependent on the heavily fluctuating world market prices for natural resources. The government is also finding itself constrained by high debt levels.

Restrictions imposed on public and economic life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic put an additional burden on Mauritania’s economy in 2020. Growth rates of one to six per cent in the years between 2015 and 2019 were followed by a drop in gross domestic product (GDP) of 3.2 per cent in 2020. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting an economic recovery for 2021.

Jobs especially in the informal sector

The majority of the population either work as subsistence farmers or they are employed in the informal sector, where they have no social protection.

Large areas of land cannot be used for agricultural purposes so that much of the country’s food has to be imported. The little crop land that is available is being overused in a lot of cases with more and more fertile soil being lost.

Especially for young people the prospects are very poor. Many of them suffer from the lack of employment opportunities and because education and training conditions are poor. At the same time there is a shortage of skilled workers in all areas. That is why Germany is targeting these areas in its development cooperation activities.

As at: 31/03/2021