Out of the various
countries that constitute the MSGBC Basin – an area comprised of Mauritania,
Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Guinea-Conakry – Mauritania is
undoubtedly one of the most promising for investors, but also one of the
least well known.
Mauritania lies at a strategic crossroads between North Africa, sub-Saharan
Africa, and at the heart of various Atlantic shipping corridors. The country
benefits from a privileged location with an Atlantic coast of over 754km,
proximity to Europe, as well as direct access to important regional markets
like Morocco, Senegal, Mali and Algeria. In recent years, the process of
opening the Mauritanian economy has been underway and the steady increase in
investments showcase the growing confidence and optimism that investors place
In 2019, a new government was elected in Mauritania. In spite of the
challenging global economic context due to the onset of the pandemic in 2020,
there is still a firm commitment to increase FDI, continue improving the
business climate and bolster efforts to maximize transparency and fight
corruption at every level of the economy. Since taking office in August 2019,
H.E. President Mohamed Cheikh El Ghazouani has undoubtedly made this quest
for greater accountability a cornerstone of his administration.
The Mauritanian authorities are increasingly eager to attract higher levels
of foreign direct investment. The Government of Mauritania is working closely
with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the
international community to further upgrade laws and regulations that are
creating a more conducive investment climate. The Ministry of Economy offers
tax benefits to enterprises in Special Economic Zones as well as other
strategic sectors of the economy.
The Economist Intelligence Unit notes that economic Policy will focus on
combatting the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The economy will
average real GDP growth of 3.5% in 2021-2022 following a 1.5% contraction in
2020. The main sectors of economic activity in Mauritania includes fisheries,
agriculture, mining, telecommunications, tourism, and a burgeoning oil and
gas sector. The major exports from Mauritania are currently frozen fish, iron
ore, silver, and gold. Commercially significant quantities of oil and natural
gas are set to come onstream in 2023.
State owned enterprises (SOEs) and parastatals still play an important role
in the Mauritanian economy and are active in a wide range of sectors
including energy, mining, petroleum, telecommunications, transportation, and
fisheries. The National Mining Company, SNIM, is the single largest
Mauritanian enterprise and the second largest employer in the country after
Although mining is a well-established industry in Mauritania, it is the oil
and gas sector that is really generating interest from international
investors. Over the past six years the MSGBC Basin has attracted increased
interest from IOC´s. In 2015, U.S. independent company Kosmos Energy made a
major natural gas discovery, the Grand Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA), in an area
located in the ultra-deep waters straddling Mauritania´s block C8 and
Senegal´s Saint Louis Profond Block. The GTA discovery is reported to have a
total of 15 Tcf of recoverable gas reserves. The focus of the GTA gas
development project is a floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) export to
enable the quick and phased monetization of the discovered gas resources.
This will make available natural gas supplies not only for export, but also
for the domestic energy markets of Mauritania and Senegal. Due to the
COVID-19 pandemic, the commissioning of the first phase of the GTA project,
which was initially planned for 2022, has been delayed to 2023. The capacity
of this Phase 1 FLNG project is about 2.5 mtpa. And subsequent phases of this
LNG export project are expected to potentially expand the project´s LNG
export capacity to 10 mtpa. In December 2016, Kosmos Energy farmed out 61% of
its GTA share to BP. The GTA field is being developed to supply an LNG export
project and BP is currently the project´s operator.
The national oil company, Société Mauritanienne Des Hydrocarbures et de
Patrimoine Minier (SMHPM), receives the state’s share of oil and the national
resource fund, Fonds National de Revenus des Hydrocarbures (FNRH),
manages all oil and gas revenues.
But in order for Mauritania to fully capitalize upon this new hydrocarbon
wealth it needs to continue undertaking significant investments in
infrastructure. It is particularly important to upgrade the country´s power
generation grid, which has suffered from insufficient investment in recent
years. A number of large-scale infrastructure projects are currently underway
inclduing the expansion of Dhar, Nouakchott International Airport, the
upgrade of Port de l´Amitié, the National Road Plan and a variety of
initiatives to accelerate business activities in Special Economic Zones.
Also, in 2019, a joint- venture between Arise and Meridiam to support the
modernization of the Nouakchott Port via a specific public-private partnership
(long-term concession of 30 years) was signed. The project is expected to
further strengthen Mauritania´s potential as a regional trading hub as well
as providing a good basis for developing the maritime logistics that the
growing oil and gas sector will require.
Mauritania is also looking to further develop capacity-building and local
content in order to prepare the country for a future as an important oil
& gas producer in the MSGBC Basin. In 2018, as part of the company´s CSR
programs, Kosmos Energy launched the Kosmos Innovation Center in Mauritania.
The program is helping young, entrepreneurial Mauritanians develop their
business skills and potential, encouraging and challenging them to turn ideas
for new products and services into reality. Over 30 young entrepreneurs were
selected to participate in the inaugural Mauritania Innovation Challenge.
Other IOC´s like ExxonMobil, and BP who are currently operating in Mauritania
are equally increasing their corporate social responsibility programs.