Mauritania. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Mauritania include Independence Day (November 28) and New Year (January 1). An overwhelming majority of the population voted in June for a new constitution that many hope will end the countless coups that have affected Mauritania since independence in 1960. The referendum, where participation was large, was the first of several elections planned by the military junta which took power in the country in a bloody coup in August 2005. The proposed reforms were aimed at reducing the president’s power. In the future, a president would be allowed a maximum of two terms of office for each of five years. It would also be more difficult for future presidents to change the constitution.
The parliamentary elections, which were held on two occasions in November – December, meant a victory for the former opposition. According to the preliminary results presented in December, 41 of the 95 parliamentary seats went to an alliance of eleven former opposition parties, while the former government (Republican Democratic and Socialist Party) was expected to get 23. No party seemed to have its own majority. The new parliament would gather after the presidential election scheduled for March 2007. According to international election observers, the parliamentary elections were free and fair.
Mauritania started producing oil at the beginning of the year. The oil is extracted from Chinguetti off the Atlantic coast. Production was expected to reach 75,000 barrels per day over the next nine years and is an important addition to the poor Mauritania.
In June, another positive economic message came when the International Monetary Fund decided to write off all the country’s debts, a total of about two billion dollars.
Mauritania has become a new shipping port for Africans trying to escape to Europe via the Canary Islands. The reason is that checks have become tougher in Morocco, which used to be the most important starting point for emigrants. Tens of thousands of Africans go out in small boats every year to get to Europe, many drown on the road. Prime Minister Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar appealed for help from the outside world. The Spanish government quickly sent a delegation to Mauritania to discuss the problem and also promised to take patrol flights to guard Mauritania’s 75-mile border along the Atlantic.
About 300,000 children were threatened by starvation in the Sahel area, which is among other things Mauritania. Although the harvest in 2006 was quite good, chronic food shortages prevailed due to three decades of drought. The UN had a hard time getting the $ 100 million that it had pledged to save the children.
Economy and energy
From an economic point of view, Mauritania is one of the least advanced countries in the world: according to data from the Global Competitiveness Index, compiled by the World Economic Forum, the country ranks 141st out of 144. However, according to the United Nations, if in the 2008 42% of the population lived below the poverty line, today this percentage has dropped to 28.3%. 80% of the territory is made up of the desert and agricultural resources are very limited (only 1% of the land is arable). However, Mauritania possesses significant mineral resources, in particular iron, copper, diamonds, gold, phosphates, gypsum and even uranium, thanks to the exploration activity carried out by international companies (in particular Australian and Chinese). In addition, oil fields were discovered in 2001 and the production and export of crude oil began in 2006. Overall, Mauritania is configured as an exporting state of minerals and natural resources (about 80% of total exports derive from extractive activities), which have contributed to general GDP growth.. The Mauritanian economy grew by 4.1% in 2015, with a slight slowdown compared to previous years, caused by the rapid decline in mineral prices. The government could therefore decide to implement cuts in state spending for 2016 to compensate for the lost revenue from exports and to keep faith with the commitments made with the IMF, which provide for the consolidation of national finances.
The main exported products are iron and, to a lesser extent, fish. Thanks to oil production, Mauritania has excellent trade relations with the European Union and especially with France. In recent years, it has increasingly traded with China, which has become the leading Mauritanian trading partner and recipient of more than half of its exports (mainly of hydrocarbons).
The services sector, which accounts for over 40% of GDP, has developed recently and mainly in the areas of trade, transport and telecommunications.
With the return to democracy, Mauritania was able to benefit from international aid: the World Bank provided around 14 billion dollars for rural infrastructure and the IMF approved a loan agreement for 118 million dollars, aimed at building a economic reform program. Widespread corruption and the general weakness of institutions, however, still constitute a brake on economic development.