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Mauritania Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Outgoing president Ould Abdel Aziz's appointed successor, army-backed general Mohamed Ould Cheikh el Ghazouani, was declared the winner of the 22 June presidential election with 52% of the vote. This election marks the first change of power without a military coup since Abdel Aziz's election in 2009 following his coup in 2008. The appointment of a loyal successor to Abdel Aziz will likely enable him to maintain political influence beyond his constitutionally permitted term. Aziz has indicated he would consider standing in 2024. Given Mauritania's history of coups and the opposition's fragmentation, any serious political challenge to Ghazouani is more likely to come from within the military than from the political opposition. Contract changes in the mining or energy sectors are unlikely and would be limited primarily to subcontractors rather than foreign firms because of the government's reliance on export earnings from these sectors.Given Ghazouani's former position as army chief of staff and his close relationship to Aziz, Mauritania will likely remain a key counter-terrorism ally of Algeria, France, and the US. This makes Mauritania a jihadist target, both from Mali-based militant groups and less-capable homegrown jihadist sympathisers, although there has not been an attack since 2011.Economic growth is expected to increase to 3.3% in 2019 driven by higher oil and iron ore mining revenues. Price increases reflecting speculative fears of currency devaluation following the January 2018 redenomination pushed annual headline inflation to around 3.1% in 2018, before easing to around 2.9% in 2019.A higher import bill and sizeable capital expenditure inflows in the mining sector will push the current-account deficit in 2019 to around 28.9% of GDP: it recently peaked at 29% in 2014. The government has made significant efforts to address the 2014–15 terms-of-trade shock, re-establishing macroeconomic stability during 2017/18.
Last update: June 29, 2019

Operational Outlook

The operational environment in Mauritania is generally poor, despite government initiatives to facilitate foreign investment. Major constraints to business include limited access to credit, high bank guarantees, and costly financing, weak tax policy, politically motivated tax audits, and inadequate infrastructure, particularly the often-erratic electricity supply.

Last update: June 8, 2019

Terrorism

High

Terrorism risks are elevated from Mali-based militant groups and from less capable homegrown jihadist sympathisers, some of which are likely to identify with the Islamic State but unlikely to receive its direct funding or material support. There is moderate risk of attempted improvised explosive device attacks in urban centres, especially against French or government targets. The unusual reference to Mauritania in an AQIM statement in May 2018 was likely due to Mauritania’s hosting of the G5 Sahel headquarters in Nouakchott. Southern and western areas bordering Mali are particularly high-risk locations for militant activity as Islamic State fighters are displaced from Libya or seek to cross the border to join Boko Haram.

Last update: June 21, 2019

Crime

Violent crime is not a serious issue in Maurtiania; however, visitors should take standard precautions against petty theft, which is prevalent because of the poverty experienced by much of the population. The border area with Mali is poorly policed and subject to banditry and activity by numerous armed groups. Lax border controls also make the country a haven for drug trafficking and other smuggling activities.

Last update: June 18, 2019

War Risks

Mauritania has no outstanding territorial disputes and the risk of interstate war is low in the three-year outlook. Skirmishes along the border with Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara remain the main potential flashpoint for conflict, although infrequent and outright war is unlikely. There is a high risk of fighting between Mauritanian security forces and jihadists armed with small-arms, as well as with drug traffickers in provinces bordering Mali, especially the desert areas of Hodh al-Charqui and Hodh al-Gharbi, which militants use as a route between northern and southern Mali.

Last update: June 8, 2019

Social Stability

High

Mauritanian society is divided between the majority Maur population and the ethnic-black minority communities, as well as between the so-called white Maur elite (the Beydans) and the black Maurs (the Haratin), historically the slaves of the Beydans. The government, which is dominated by the white Maur elite, lacks the resources and resolve necessary to effectively enforce a 1981 ban on slavery, prompting intermittent protests by black Maurs. Poverty, unemployment, social inequality, and ethnic grievances intermittently trigger rioting. Recurrent labour strikes are likely in the mining and cargo sectors. A constitutional referendum in August 2017 was rejected by political opposition groups but large-scale protests did not occur.

Last update: June 8, 2019

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over one year of age.

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

Transportation

Elevated

Travel insurance is mandatory upon entering Mauritania.

Road infrastructure is generally adequate. However, due to difficult traffic conditions (i.e. roads covered in sand, poor visibility, presence of animals, and state of vehicles…), all night travel should be avoided.

Outside the capital, all travel has to be completed in daylight, in an all-terrain vehicle (4x4), preferably in a convoy, equipped with sufficient supplies of water, food, and fuel. Travelers are advised to inform trusted contacts of their destination and to be accompanied by a guide. Vehicles should also be equipped with spare mechanical parts (wheel, cables etc.) and telecommunication devices (via satellite for example). Finally, passengers should be able to prove their identification at all times (passport and visa).

Travelers are advised to vary their itineraries as much as possible as well as the times of their trips.

In the case of an accident, it is best to indicate the location of an accident with flares or a warning triangle, to warn local authorities, and to contact the Consulate Section of your Embassy. Please call 17 to reach the police, 19 to reach the fire station and 119 to reach the gendarmes.

The use of public transportation is not recommended as it is not very reliable; it is best to rent a car with a chauffeur.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Infrastructure

Credit cards and checks are not accepted in local businesses so it is best to have cash available or traveler's checks. An ATM, widely regarded as safe, is available on the premises of the bank, Société Générale, in Nouakchott.  

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

In the south of the country the rainy season lasts from July until September and during this time sandstorms can sometimes strike. Temperatures are very high throughout the country between April and September (40°C in May and June). The rest of the year temperatures fluctuate between 20°C and 25°C. In desert zones conditions are hot during the day and cool at night; during the winter months temperatures can approach freezing.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +222

There are no emergency services in Mauritania.

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019