In Mauritania there is a limited system of cable and open-wire lines, minor microwave radio relay links, and radiotelephone communications stations. Most domestic connections use
open-wire lines or cable. A domestic satellite telecommunications system was recently established in order to link the country’s capital city, Nouakchott, with regional capitals. Due to the country’s geographical features, satellite broadband seems to be the majority common solution in remote areas.
The Internet penetration rate was slightly over 16% in early 2017. During 2000-2010, mobile penetration in Mauritania grew from 0.64 % to 87 % of the people. During the same period, the country’s three mobile operators invested USD 500 million, excluding the fees paid for licences. Mobile phone lines constitute around 97 % of amount phone lines in the country. Mauritel is the leader of the mobile market with a 54 % market share.
At end-2010, Mauritania’s fixed-line and internet market was split between operators. The incumbent, Mauritel, offered Internet access via PSTN, ISDN, leased lines and ADSL, launched in 2006. Its local network included standard wire cables and wireless local loop (WLL). Mauritel is as well relying on satellite technologies. Its satellite transmission network is 97% digital and operates using satellites. These satellites are Intelsat, serving direct traffic and transit traffic to Europe, the Americas, Africa and the rest of the world; and Arabsat, serving regional and domestic traffic.
Despite difficult terrain, Mauritel is investing in fixed infrastructure. In May 2011, the operator launched a MRO 3-billion cable project, which will link Nouakchott to Kobonni via 24 fibre-optic pairs. The backbone will provide broadband capacity to the towns and villages along its path. It could as well serve as a thoroughfare for mobile Internet communications. The Autorité de Régulation is in charge of the regulation of activities done on the territory of Mauritania in the water, electricity, telecommunications, postal mail, and other sectors.
Mauritania’s economy is dominated by natural resources and agriculture. Half the population still depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though many nomads and subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Recently, GDP growth has been driven by foreign investment in the mining and oil sectors.
Mauritania’s extensive mineral resources include iron ore, gold, copper, gypsum, and phosphate rock, and exploration is ongoing for uranium, crude oil, and natural gas. Extractive commodities make up about three-quarters of Mauritania’s total exports, subjecting the economy to price swings in world commodity markets. Mining is also a growing source of government revenue. The nation’s coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue.
Risks to Mauritania’s economy include its recurring droughts, dependence on foreign aid and investment, and insecurity in neighboring Mali, as well as significant shortages of infrastructure, institutional capacity, and human capital. Mauritania has sought additional IMF support by focusing efforts on poverty reduction. Investment in agriculture and infrastructure are the largest components of the country’s public expenditures.
Mauritel is an overall telephony operator, that is a leader in fixed telephony, mobile telephony and Internet services in Mauritania. It provides the most modern telecommunications services to 90% of the Mauritanian population, and its overall market share is 60 %. Mauritel was created in 1999 from the splitting of the Office des Postes et des Télécommunications, that gave rise to two companies, one dedicated to the postal services, and the another one to telecommunications. The Mauritanian state retains 46% of the stakes. Although the telecommunications market is open in Mauritania since the granting in 2009 of two additional fixed telephony licenses, Mauritel remains the only landline operator in Mauritania.
None at this moment. The country’s National Connectivity Project, in its component of the implementation of a broadband architecture for the development of ICT, has just begun a study on the feasibility of setting up a data center, whose implementation has been entrusted to the Tunisian company ESABR / GM ARCHI International. (Nov. 2016)