Country FilesNorthCountry Profile 2014: MAURITANIA

Thu,23Nov2017

Country Profile 2014: MAURITANIA

Abdel Aziz under fire

President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who overthrew the country’s only democratically elected president in 2008, continues to be the dominant force in politics. As The Africa Report went to press opposition parties were threatening to boycott legislative and municipal elections planned for 23 November. Most of the parties of the Coordination de l’Opposition Démocratique (COD) umbrella group promised not to participate in the polls, which had already been delayed for two years.

 

 TABLE OF CONTENTS:

TOP MAURITANIAN COMPANIES

TOP MAURITANIAN BANKS

 

ar-infographie-mauritania-2014Abdel Aziz under fire

President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who overthrew the country’s only democratically elected president in 2008, continues to be the dominant force in politics. As The Africa Report went to press opposition parties were threatening to boycott legislative and municipal elections planned for 23 November. Most of the parties of the Coordination de l’Opposition Démocratique (COD) umbrella group promised not to participate in the polls, which had already been delayed for two years. The opposition asked for more time to scrutinise the electoral register, but the government refused. Two sizeable COD coalition members, the Islamist party Tewassoul and the Union des Forces de Progrès, broke ranks and submitted lists for the November polls.

Earlier in 2013, Abdel Aziz had rejected the formation of a government of national unity, proposed by national assembly president Messaoud Ould Boulkheir as a means for reconciliation. Well before a soldier shot Abdel Aziz in the stomach in October 2012, the COD had been calling for the president to step down. Seven members of parliament for med their own committee in April 2013 to investigate corruption cases that they insist go up to the highest echelons of power.

TRANSPARENCY DEMANDS

The legislatives pave the way for a presidential election to be held in July 2014. Abdel Aziz won the 2009 elections with 52.6% in the first round, and COD officials say that they will also boycott the presidential poll if the transparency measures they demand are not put in place.

Security in the Sahel and the fight against terrorism have been central planks of Abdel Aziz’s political platform. He had long left his neighbours wondering about the country’s response to the instability in Mali. In August 2013, he said the government would contribute 1,800 troops to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali as long as the soldiers remained close to the Mali-Mauritania border. Relations between Mali and Mauritania remain cold, and Abdel Aziz refused to attend President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta’s inauguration in September 2013. France is also supporting Mauritania’s security forces with arms and training.

Despite weak rains in 2013, agricultural activity, together with construction and services, have boosted the economy. The government signed a new fishing agreement with the European Union in October 2013. It included a payment of €110m ($148m) and exclusive rights to catch octopus and squid.

Mining is an other mainstay of the economy. In October 2013 the Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière discovered a new deposit at Tizeghaf that is estimated to contain 830m tn of iron ore. The state-owned company plans to raise its production from a current 12m tn per year to 40mtn in 2025 by investing $5bn over the next decade in new processing plants that should be operational in 2019.

GOLD SLUMP

The gold mining sector is not faring that well. Canadian company Kinross announced in October 2013 that it was sacking 300 workers due to lower gold prices. It also said it would not make an investment decision about expanding operations at its Tasiast plant until 2015.

The oil and gas sectors are also growing. The Tullow-operated Banda gas field holds some 500bn ft" of natural gas. It is located 60km offshore of Nouakchott and will be used to generate electricity. Mauritania’s national demand for electricity is about 60MW and the field should generate 350MW from 2015, some of which will be exported to neighbouring countries. The government also awarded a series of exploration licences in the Taoudeni Basin in 2013.

Abdel Aziz campaigns as the “president of the poor”, but poverty and unemployment remain high. The country has not made much progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals for reducing poverty or achieving universal primary education.Government spending, however, has risen to finance a series of infrastructure projects including a new international airport, electricity transmission lines and water projects in rural areas. Food subsidies to fight the impact of the drought and electricity subsidies have also risen. Against the advice of the International Monetary Fund, the government says it will not raise energy tariffs before the 2014 elections.

 

 TOP MAURITANIAN COMPANIES

Rank 2012Rank 2011CompanySectorCountryTurnover (Thds $)Turnover changeNet profits
132129SOC. NATIONALE INDUSTRIELLE ET MINIRE*MININGMAURITANIA1,092,632NA564,273
343-GUELB MOGHREIN COPPER-GOLD MINEMININGMAURITANIA346,000NA0
421407MAURITANIAN COPPER MINES*MININGMAURITANIA265,300NA109,800
447-STAR OIL MAURITANIEPETROL. SERVICESMAURITANIA243,000NA9,600
 


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