The government of Mauritania has published an online investment guide, entitled “iGuide”, to streamline foreign investment into the country.

iGuide will act as a one-stop source for investors, providing them with all the information needed to invest in the west African country. It will also highlight areas for reform in Mauritania’s investment environment, thereby allowing the government to understand investor needs.

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“Investment is a key driver of development,” said Mohamed Salem Ould Soueilim, permanent secretary of Mauritania’s Ministry of the Economy and Finance. “The iGuide should help us seize the opportunities provided by the international markets as well as promote domestic investment.”

The website covers topics including the rules and procedures for starting a business, taxes, acquisition of land, skills and wage expectations of the local labour force, quality of infrastructure, investor rights and business sectors with exceptionally high investment potential.

“Putting the right information out there helps investors decide whether to take the next step in visiting the country and shows that the government is serious about rolling out the welcome mat,” said Ian Richards, Unctad’s investment guides co-ordinator.

Mauritania, an Islamic Republic of 4 million people whose land mass is 90% desert, has many investable sectors including tourism, transport infrastructure, livestock, fisheries and agriculture, mining, oil and retail.

FDI inflows into Mauritania did not exceed $330m in 2017, which is an improvement from $271m a year earlier, but far from the historic highs of 2012 and 2013, when FDI touched, respectively, $1.4bn and $1.1bn, according to figures in the Unctad World Investment Report 2018.

Both the oil, coal and gas sector, and the metals sectors, have dominated the 33 greenfield FDI projects in Mauritania since 2003, accounting for 24.2% and 18.2% of projects respectively, according to fDi Markets. Iron ore extraction is the country’s major industry, making up 46% of total exports, according to Oil Review Africa, and accounted for 37.7% of capital expenditure into Mauritania over the last 15 years, according to fDi Market estimates.

French oil giant Total announced on 12 December 2018 that it had signed an agreement with Mauritania for two new exploration and production contracts in the country’s deep offshore West African Atlantic basin.

This follows ExxonMobil, who signed production sharing contracts last year with the Mauritanian government for three deepwater offshore blocks, and Shell, who signed a similar deal in July 2018 for exploration and potential future production in two offshore blocks.

There has been a longstanding presence of major oil producing companies in Mauritania and this is only set to continue following future oil and gas reserve discoveries.