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Madagascar Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Madagascar is likely to enjoy prolonged political and civil stability after a clear victory for Andry Rajoelina in the presidential election on 19 December 2018, and then an absolute majority for his coalition in legislative elections on 27 May 2019. Challenger Marc Ravalomanana had complained about alleged bias in the electoral commission and fraudulent results, but stopped short of calling on his supporters to stage prolonged protests. The government is now likely to use its dominance of the National Assembly to push through ratification of numerous power projects, including hydro-electric dams, to address electricity shortages, high costs and low network coverage.A bidding round for 44 offshore oil blocks, which started in October 2018 and was due to end in May, was called off on 19 February by President Rajoelina. He had highlighted during the election campaign that he wanted to reform the hydrocarbons code, a process halted in early 2018 by predecessor Hery Rajaonarimampianina to speed up the bidding process. Rajoelina is still likely to expedite the new legislation to revive the bidding round, but interest is likely to be moderated by provisions for less favourable terms.Large areas of the country will remain dangerous for travelling due to the security forces' inability to control bandit groups. Their areas of operation are continuing to expand despite President Rajoelina's campaign promise to target banditry. Incidents of armed robbery are extending to western tourist areas north of Morondova, where they are likely to become more frequent.Economic growth is expected to average 4% in the three- to five-year outlook, underpinned by a three-year USD305-million Extended Credit Facility from the IMF, which sets clear monetary, fiscal, and business targets that should continue to improve the macroeconomic fundamentals. However, significant risks to the outlook include weak institutions and high vulnerability to natural disasters such as droughts, floods, and plague.
Last update: June 20, 2019

Operational Outlook

High-profile arrests using a new anti-corruption unit and a wide investigation of members of parliament are likely intended to send a signal to investors and international lenders that President Andry Rajoelina wants to efface the reputation for corruption of his previous, transitional government. However, an endemic culture of political corruption and patronage is likely to limit the effectiveness of measures to combat elite level graft. Low revenues, poor administration, and government interference will continue to drive public-sector strike action, although the frequency of stoppages is likely to be retarded by a 19% increase in the minimum wage announced in April 2019.

Last update: June 19, 2019

Terrorism

Elevated

Armed gangs have de-facto control over large and expanding areas of the country, but their primary objective is criminal gain. Security forces appear ineffective in controlling the spread of banditry, which is starting to affect tourist areas in the west of the country, with several incidents of armed robbery including fatalities. There have been occasional IED and grenade attacks, likely with a political component, but such events were absent from the presidential election in late 2018 and legislative election in May 2019 despite large protests taking place in the months leading up to the presidential poll.

Last update: June 21, 2019

Crime

Madagascar has seen a steady rise in violent crime and kidnapping, growth that was accelerated by the prolonged political crisis in 2009–13. These offences were not tackled adequately by the Hery Rajaonarimampianina administration (2013-18), which was preoccupied with more pressing crises. Kidnapping of businessmen and family members is now considered to be a major deterrent to investment. Areas of the country effectively controlled by armed bandits known as dahalos continue to expand, despite campaign promises by new President Andry Rajoelina to tackle the problem. There has also been a surge in attacks on ground cargo as well as carjacking, with risks particularly severe in remote areas after dark.

Last update: June 20, 2019

War Risks

Civil war risks are receding because Madagascar avoided the possibility of major protests leading to nationwide unrest and possible army intervention following a closely contested and contentious presidential election in November–December 2018. Challenger Marc Ravalomanana accepted defeat by Andry Rajoelina despite having initially made allegations of systematic fraud and rigging. Risks are likely to drop further following legislative elections on 27 May, which resulted in an absolute majority for Rajoelina's coalition despite some limited concerns relating to possible rigging and over-voting. There is virtually no risk of an external attack on Madagascar.

Last update: June 20, 2019

Social Stability

Very high

Protest risks are falling significantly as Madagascar has emerged from its election cycle with no major lingering sources of contention. Former president Marc Ravalomanana's acceptance of his defeat in the presidential run-off in December 2018 removed the risk of violent demonstrations in the immediate aftermath, but also took much of the animosity out of legislative elections in May 2019. The margin of victory for the coalition of Andry Rajoelina also precluded further large political protests. Demonstrations focusing on mining projects, power blackouts, fuel price rises, and socio-economic grievances will be more durable and widespread.

Last update: June 20, 2019

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all individuals traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Yellow Fever: A vaccine is available for children over the age of one year.

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam), doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin), or proguanil and atovaquone (sometimes marketed as Mepron).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Extreme

Madagascar, an island nation located in the Indian Ocean, is highly vulnerable to cyclones during the rainy season (December to April). The coast, along with the northern and southern ends, is typically the most impacted by storms. A Category 4 cyclone affected the island in March 2017, killing 38 people and displacing 52,000 others.

During cyclone season, devastating floods are also common and make most highways impassable. In January 2016, Antananarivo experienced torrential rains, leading to significant material damage. The northern area of the country (Sofia, Boeny, Alaotra, Mangoro, Betsiboka) is also impacted by floods.

The draining system is almost non-existent and is poorly maintained. This can lead to significant disruptions of public transportation and telecommunication infrastructures. Mosquito- and water-borne diseases are more likely to spread during floods.

The south of the country is also hit by droughts. A severe drought-related food crisis has affected the south of the island since December 2016; 850,000 people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. These dramatic periods can lead to increased tensions in affected areas.

During droughts, bush fires are frequent; in October 2016, the authorities issued an alert regarding the alarming increase in bush fires throughout the country due to the climatic conditions.

Additionally, sharks are present in coastal waters, including off the coast of Antananarivo (northeast). It is advised to monitor the most at-risk beaches and, if necessary, avoid bathing.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Elevated

Traveling by car can be challenging in Madagascar due to the poorly developed road infrastructures (except major highways between Antananarivo-Tamatave, Antananarivo-Majunga, and Antananarivo-Fianarantsoa-Toliara) and to the dangerous driving habits of the locals (excessive speed, risky overtaking), especially during the rainy season. Travel by night should be avoided due to the lack of public lighting, and it is advised to travel between cities using a four-wheel drive vehicle with sufficient food, water, and fuel, as well as spare mechanical parts. Violent assaults by armed bandits on secluded highways are frequent throughout the country, especially on the RN7, RN27, RN10, RN13, and RN1B highways. Be particularly vigilant and drive with windows rolled up and doors locked.

In cities, it is best to travel in chauffeured cars or use taxis having been booked in advance by your company or your hotel.  

In the event of a road collision involving physical injury to a local individual, it is strongly advised to immediately go to the nearest police station, as there is a high risk of a hostile reaction by the local population.

Several highways become impassable during the rainy season (December to April), which can lead to a sudden fuel shortages.

Traveling by air can also be dangerous due to certain Air Madagascar aircraft being banned from the European Union airspace for being antiquated and badly maintained. Ferry services are generally uncomfortable and unsafe. Finally, rail services are almost non-existent.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

The island nation of Madagascar experiences two seasons, the dry season (April to October) and the rainy season (November to March).

The west coast is the driest and sunniest region of the country. Along the eastern coast it rains throughout the year, with the heaviest precipitation from December to March. In the highlands (where the capital Antananarivo is located), heavy but brief rain storms are common from mid-November until March. The cyclone season lasts from mid-December until mid-April.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +261
Police: 117
Fire Dept.: 117
Ambulance: 117

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019