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Country Reports

Mauritania Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The investigations into alleged corruption involving former president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and his circle are most likely intended to weaken Aziz’s prospects of regaining power and pre-empt a coup by his faction. This is especially important given Mauritania’s history of coups.Given President Ghazouani's former position as army chief of staff, Mauritania will likely remain a key foreign counter-terrorism ally. This makes it a jihadist target, both from Mali-based militant groups and less-capable homegrown jihadist sympathisers, although there has not been an attack since 2011.IHS Markit expects Mauritania's real GDP to contract in 2020 amid the currently weak global macroeconomic environment affecting commodity price trends and a slowdown in foreign direct investment. We expect delays by at least a year in investment decisions on the country's offshore gas field projects. The expected drop in the extractive sector productivity will weigh on overall sector performance. The current-account deficit as a result will see a large widening; however, the lower global oil price eases the import bill. The monetary policy committee decided to cut the central bank's key interest rate from 6.5% to 5.0% in March 2020. Additionally, the loan facility rates and the reserve requirement rate were lowered from 9.0% to 6.5% and 7.0% to 5.0%, respectively. These incentives should somewhat support domestic demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last update: September 9, 2020

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, costly financing, high bank guarantees, weak tax policy, politically motivated tax audits, and inadequate infrastructure, particularly the often-erratic electricity supply.

Last update: September 9, 2020

Terrorism

High

Terrorism risks are elevated from Mali-based jihadists and from less capable homegrown jihadist sympathisers, some of whom are likely to identify with the Islamic State. They are, however, unlikely to receive its direct funding or material support. Mauritania’s hosting of the G5 Sahel headquarters in Nouakchott and Ghazouani's presidency of the G5 Sahel since February 2020 moderately increase the likelihood of attempted attacks in urban centres, especially against French or government targets. Southern and eastern areas bordering Mali are particularly high-risk locations as Islamic State fighters are displaced from Libya or seek to cross the border to join Boko Haram.

Last update: September 10, 2020

Crime

There is an elevated crime rate in Mauritania, including in the capital, Nouakchott. Risks include violent crimes such as assault, carjacking, kidnapping, murder, and robbery, as well as non-violent crimes such as theft and vandalism. Petty theft is particularly prevalent because of the poverty experienced by much of the population. The border area with Mali is subject to banditry and activity by numerous armed groups, although security patrols are improving. Nevertheless, lax border controls also make the country a haven for drug trafficking and other smuggling activities. The theft and looting of warehouses is likely to increase moderately during the COVID-19 pandemic, although there have been no reports of major supply-chain disruptions and more-frequent security patrols to enforce government-imposed curfews will mitigate this risk.

Last update: September 15, 2020

War Risks

Mauritania has no outstanding territorial disputes and the risk of interstate war is low. Infrequent skirmishes along the border with Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara and disputes with Senegalese fishers in Mauritanian territorial waters are the main potential flashpoint for conflict, although outright war is highly unlikely. There is an elevated 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: September 10, 2020

Social Stability

High

Mauritanian society is divided between the majority Maur population and the ethnic-black minority communities, and between the so-called white Maur elite (the Beydan) and the black Maurs (the Haratin), historically the slaves of the Beydan. The government, which is dominated by the white Maur elite, has lacked the resources and resolve necessary to effectively enforce a ban on slavery, despite having criminalised it in 2007. This continues to prompt intermittent protests by black Maurs. Poverty, unemployment, social inequality, and ethnic grievances intermittently trigger rioting. President Ghazouani initiated dialogue with the opposition on multiple occasions since his election in June 2019, including anti-slavery activists and Islamists, which will likely mitigate protest risks.

Last update: September 15, 2020

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