Recent Developments & Prospects

Macroeconomic Policy

Fiscal Policy

Monetary Policy

Economic Cooperation, Regional Integration & Trade

Debt Policy

Economic & Political Governance

Private Sector

Financial Sector

Public Sector Management, Institutions & Reform

Natural Resource Management & Environment

Political Context

Social Context & Human Development

Building Human Resources

Poverty Reduction, Social Protection & Labour

Gender Equality

Thematic analysis: Structural transformation and natural resources

Authors: Marcellin Ndong Ntah, Souleman Boukar

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  • Mauritania’s economic dynamism of 2012 continued into the following year with an estimated 6.8% growth rate for 2013 and a good outlook for the short term.
  • Despite favourable economic indicators, the chances that the Millennium Development Goals will be achieved by 2015 are mixed. There has been progress towards education related targets, but much remains to be done in the field of health.
  • Mauritania will need to intensify structural reforms and develop a genuine innovation policy to diversify its production base and increase its value added in global value chains.

The economic dynamism displayed by Mauritania in 2012 continued in 2013, fuelled by agriculture, mining and construction. Growth is estimated to have been at 6.8% in 2013 and is projected at 6.9% in 2014 and 7.3% in 2015. This favourable outlook relies on a series of optimistic assumptions: new iron deposits available to the mining sector, good climate conditions and a positive impact of the country’s new fishing agreement with the European Union (EU) signed in October 2013. Benefits are also expected from the Brussels round table held in 2010 to finance the government’s economic and social programme under its strategic framework to combat poverty, the CSLP III (Cadre stratégique de lutte contre la pauvreté). In the long run, however, the economy remains vulnerable to changes in the terms of trade.

The year 2013 was marked by a satisfactory implementation of the three-year programme supported by the Extended Credit Facility. The programme was completed in June 2013 when national authorities had met almost all the quantitative performance criteria. Official reserves had reached the equivalent of 7.3 months of imports at end-2013. In addition to good budgetary performance, macroeconomic stability was supported by a prudent monetary policy aimed at absorbing the inflationary pressures resulting from excess bank liquidity.

Strong growth seems to have created jobs, bringing unemployment down to 10.1% according to the national survey on employment and the informal sector (Enquête nationale de référence sur l’emploi et le secteur informel, ENRE/SI) conducted in 2012 and published in 2013. This is significantly lower than the 32% unemployment rate found in the 2008 EPCV survey on household living conditions (Enquête permanente sur les conditions de vie des ménages), but these surveys each used a different methodology. The ENRE/SI results seem encouraging, but the labour market still poses structural challenges: 96% of non-agricultural, non-government employees work in the informal sector, and 53% of jobs are classed as vulnerable. In addition, some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set for 2015 seem difficult to reach, especially the health goals. Significant progress was however achieved in education, access to safe drinking water, sanitation and gender equality.

The country’s participation in global value chains (GVCs) is hindered by several obstacles, including the level of infrastructure and the limited value added of exported natural resources. The priority for the authorities is to remove these constraints and to implement a genuine innovation policy to diversify the economy.

Table 1: Macroeconomic indicators

Real GDP growth76.86.97.3
Real GDP per capita growth4.
CPI inflation4.94.155.8
Budget balance % GDP0.8-3.7-2.1-4.8
Current account balance % GDP-33.4-32.8-27.1-26.7

Source: Data from domestic authorities; estimates (e) and projections (p) based on authors’ calculations.