Mauritania Country Report
President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz is unlikely to be challenged by Mauritania’s weak political opposition. Protests are likely to increase ahead of the 2019 presidential election, posing moderate risks to property in urban areas. This is especially true if Abdel Aziz successfully legislates to extend his presidential term limit past 2019. The main threat to political stability is an elevated risk of a military coup, the most recent of which occurred in 2008. In the event of a coup, contract changes would primarily be faced by sub-contractors rather than foreign firms in the mining or energy sectors. Economic growth is likely to increase moderately in 2018. There is an elevated risk of IED attacks in the capital, Nouakchott, and kidnappings by jihadists in the border areas withMali.
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.
Overall terrorism risks in Mauritania are elevated, both from Mali-based militant groups and from less capable homegrown jihadist sympathisers, some of which are likely to identify with the Islamic State. There is a moderate risk of improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in urban centres, especially against French or government targets. The unusual reference to Mauritania in an AQIM statement on 8 May is 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.
Mauritania has no outstanding territorial disputes and the risk of interstate war is moderate in the three-year outlook. Skirmishes along the border with Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara provides the main potential flashpoint for conflict, although this remains unlikely in the one-year outlook. There is a high risk of fighting between Mauritanian security forces and jihadists 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.
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 their former slaves historically, the black Maurs (the Haratin). The government lacks the resources necessary to effectively enforce a 1981 ban on slavery, prompting intermittent protests. Economic issues, ethnic grievances, and unpredictable incidents such as Quran desecrations 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 take place.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are no emergency services in Mauritania.
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz