Although largely a desert country with limited expanses of pastoral land (only 0.5 percent of its 1.03 million square kilometers are considered arable land), Mauritania is bouncing back from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Combined with significant support from international institutions, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania’s (GIRM) swift economic recovery plan in response to the pandemic placed the economy back on track despite the global food and fuel challenges caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine. On January 27, Prime Minister Bilal presented a bright picture of Mauritania’s economic outlook despite slow global economic growth because of Mauritania’s reforms and resources, to include deposits of copper, gypsum, uranium, and one of Africa’s largest offshore hydrocarbon discoveries, the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) natural gas field.
On December 29, 2022, Mauritania’s National Assembly approved the GIRM budget for 2023. The budget is approximately $3 billion, which is an increase of $88 million (3.03 percent) compared to the amended national budget in 2022. The 2023 operationalizes for the fourth year the implementation of President Ghazouani’s campaign commitment (Taahoudaty, meaning “my commitments” in Arabic) which reflects the President’s vision to promote economic and social development that is equitable and more inclusive. The budget also aims to raise the level of national economic activity after the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to achieve a strong and equitable economic growth that takes into account good governance, social justice, and sustainable development.
With Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) natural gas production expected to commence around December 2023 or the first quarter of 2024, Mauritania is positioned to become a major global energy partner and gas producer and a key regional player in Africa. With its world-class renewable energy potential, Mauritania can enhance access to affordable energy and potentially enable clean energy to be converted to green hydrogen. Green hydrogen is an attractive resource for Mauritania’s energy transition, both for its potential to boost investment and for its promising role in decarbonizing heavy industries.
With its geographic position and proximity to Europe, Mauritania is strategically placed to become a major supplier of natural gas especially in the wake of the Russia’s war in Ukraine and the desire for European countries to diversify their gas supplies and reduce dependence on Russian gas. In addition to the GTA project, Mauritania signed with British Petroleum (BP) and Dallas-based Kosmos Energy in October 2022 a production-sharing contract (PSC) for the Bir Allah offshore gas field. Bir Allah is around 60 km north of the GTA development and around 100 km offshore and is expected to constitute a separate LNG hub, with capacity of around 10 million tons per year.
Historically, U.S. investment in Mauritania has been primarily in the hydrocarbons and mining sectors. However, other key sectors such as agriculture, electricity, telecommunications, and infrastructure provide more opportunities for U.S. investment. The Mauritanian government’s efforts to meet the challenges of food self-sufficiency provide an emerging opportunity for U.S. agro-businesses to engage with Mauritania through supplies and equipment sales, as well as technical training. According to the GIRM, Mauritania has an estimated potential of 500,000 acres of arable land distributed as follows:
- 1,350 square kilometers in the Senegal River Valley
- 120 square kilometers in the maritime zone.
- 2,500 square kilometers in rainfed crops.
- 1000 square kilometers in decline crops and behind dams and.
- 160 square kilometers of palm crops.
In 2022, the United States imported $6.1 million worth of goods in terms of customs value from Mauritania. Data from the United States International Trade Commission shows that main U.S. imports from Mauritania in 2022 were octopus and other seafood as well as components for fertilizers. The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) reported that Mauritania’s overall top exports (HS-2) in 2021 were iron ore ($2 billion), minerals and precious metals ($600 million), and fish, crustaceans, and mollusks ($500 million).
Mauritania’s economic outlook for 2022-2024 shows optimistic signs of economic recovery. This is mainly due to the strong performance of private consumption and investment. According to the World Bank’s fifth Economic Update on Mauritania, published on June 21, 2022, Mauritania’s economic recovery in 2021 was robust. Growth is expected to average 6.5 percent of GDP in 2023-2024, sustained by increases in public investment and the gas production from the GTA project.
|TI Corruption Perceptions Index||2022||130 of 180||http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview|
|Global Innovation Index||2022||129 of 132||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions)||2021||$133M||https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/|
|World Bank GNI per capita||2021||$1950||http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD|