Foreign investment flows to Mauritania have been historically weak. According to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2022, FDI inflows to the country were almost null in 2021, totalling only USD 22 million (compared to an average of nearly 800 million in the four preceding years). In the same period, the total stock of FDI was estimated at USD 10 billion, or 109.5% of its GDP. Most of the investments are directed to oil exploration and exploitation, mineral mining of iron ore and gold, fisheries, and agriculture. The mining sector, in particular, has seen significant investment in recent years, with companies such as Kinross Gold and First Quantum Minerals investing in gold and copper mining projects. The majority of FDI in Mauritania comes from France, which has historically had strong economic and political ties with the country. Other major investors in Mauritania include China (which has been showing a steadily increasing interest in recent years), the United Arab Emirates, and Canada. In 2022, several green hydrogen projects have been announced: the main one is Australian CWP Global’s Aman which aims to produce green hydrogen through a 30-gigawatt GW wind and solar hybrid project worth USD 40 billion.
The country is trying to promote its strategic geographical location to attract new investors. It is rich in minerals and fisheries resources and presents a great energy potential (gas, renewable). Mauritania constructed its first deep-water port in an effort to promote Nouadhibou as a multi-purpose service platform in the sub-region. There is no law prohibiting or limiting foreign investment in any sector of the economy, and both domestic and foreign entities can engage in all forms of remunerative activities (with the exception of activities involving selling pork meat or alcohol). However, the government performs mandatory screening of foreign investments, which is non-discriminatory. Among the factors hindering FDI, there are political and security instability, corruption, an inefficient and politically vulnerable judicial system and a poorly diversified and highly informal economy. Mauritania ranks 130th out of 180 economies on the 2022 Corruption Perception Index and 117th out of 176 on the 2023 Index of Economic Freedom.
|Foreign Direct Investment
|FDI Inward Flow (million USD)
|FDI Stock (million USD)
|Number of Greenfield Investments*
|Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD)
Source: UNCTAD - Latest available data.
Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.
Historically, Mauritania has been relatively open to foreign direct investment, especially in the mining, hydrocarbon, agriculture and fishing sectors. In June 2012, to encourage further investment, the government updated provisions in the Investment Code to enhance the security of investments and facilitate administrative procedures. The Code provides for free repatriation of foreign capital and wages for foreign employees. The code also created free points of importation and export incentives. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which register through OPPS, do not pay any tax or customs duties. The Code also created the formation of Special Economic Zones to encourage regional development. Separately, the Nouadhibou Free Zone was created with its ownregulatory scheme.
The Civil and Commercial Codes protect contracts, although court enforcement and dispute settlement can be difficult.
The government has set up a system of a single office in order to facilitate the administrative work of foreign investors. It deals with the submission of files in order to obtain permits, administrative procedures, establishment of businesses and issuing work permits for foreign workforce.
To find out more about Bilateral Investment Treaties signed by Mauritania, please visit the UNCTAD's Investment policy hub website.
To learn more about the different legal form of enterprises that may be settled by foreigners in Mauritania, please visit the dedicated page on the "Guichet Unique" website (in French).
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Latest Update: December 2023