Mauritania - Country Commercial Guide
Market Challenges
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Mauritania continues to struggle with persistent poverty, which affects over 50 percent of the population and includes food and water shortages.  The illiteracy rate of the population is estimated at around 30-50 percent, and the country faces a shortage of skilled labor, which has been exacerbated by international companies arriving – mostly in the hydrocarbon sector – and hiring the available skilled labor in trying to meet Mauritanian local labor content regulations.   

Tariffs and taxes are high in comparison with neighboring countries.  In addition, corruption and the complexity of customs procedures pose challenges for investors, particularly for those unfamiliar with the system.  Nevertheless, starting a business in Mauritania is now easier through the establishment of a “Guichet Unique,” which serves as a one-stop shop for setting up a company within 48 hours, under the management of the Mauritania Investment Promotion Agency (APIM) created in March 2021.  

Generally poor, albeit improving, infrastructure is a challenge for many investors, but also a market opportunity.  Other challenges include a weak judicial system, opaque tax laws, complicated labor laws, and deeply rooted tribal ties that can lead to nepotism and the creation of patronage networks.