After independence, copper was discovered at Akjout and Iron ore amidst Fderik and Zourat. Mauritanian Iron Mine Company (MIFERMA) was founded in 1952 with the support of the World Bank, French Government, and Mauritanian Government, which equipped the company with $200 million worth of investment by 1966. This astounding discovery contributed to 28% of GDP and accounted for 92% of export which hugely translated into economic development.
After the country’s first democratic transition of power in August 2019, GDP growth has risen from 3.1% in 2017 to 3.6% in 2018 and 3.7% in 2019 and is projected to reach an average of 6.2% for 2019 to 2021. All these good numbers are due to anticipated international iron ore prices increase, structural reform of the service sector, and increased mining production.
The development objective project in Mauritania is in progress, led by El Hadramy Oubcid of the Ministry of Economic and Finance sponsored by the World Bank, which will amount to $15.40 million. The objective is to improve monitoring and transparency of selected government entities and the administration of property and mining taxation. Also, the recent discovery off the coast of Mauritania and Senegal by U.S. company Konros Energy is set to produce its first gas in 2022. It is forecasted to double the country’s revenue with more mineral exploration happening in the North and North-West of the country by other major oil & gas firms such as Total S.A. the gas reserve is estimated at 450 bcf of gas. In 2019, a report showed top exports of Mauritania are Iron Ore ($1.68B), Gold ($600M), Molluscs ($377M), exporting mainly to China ($1.42B), Switzerland ($549M), Spain ($409M), Japan ($398M), and Italy ($225M).
However, according to African Development Bank, Mauritania’s bright economic outlook has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 with growth expected to fall from 0.9% (baseline) to -1.1% (worst case scenario). IMF Executive Board Assessment in Dec 2019 noted that despite economic outlook, continued expansion of mining production, the upcoming development of the large offshore gas field, strong domestic demand, and external downside risk remains a hindering factor due to global slowdown, commodity prices volatility, and security threats in the Sahel. Growth is projected to return in 2021, assuming the global pandemic subsides, the global economy revives, and a recovery in global demand for iron, which is Mauritania’s main engine of growth.
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