Mauritania (2012)

Source: REEEP Policy Database (contributed by SERN for REEEP)

This policy & regulatory overview is not updated anymore since 2015. We decided to keep it online due to high demand but would like to make you aware of the fact that it might be outdated.

Energy sources

Total installed electricity capacity (2008): 253 MW

  • Conventional thermal energy: 61.66%
  • Renewable energy: 38.34%

Total primary energy supply (2008): 1,495 ktoe
Biomass: 59%
Petroleum Products: 41%

Offshore oil reserves have been estimated at 1 billion barrels. As in most African countries, traditional fuels are an important source of energy. However, unlike most other Sahel countries, Mauritania also relies heavily on petroleum products which supply 95% of the country’s commercial energy needs.  The main petroleum fuel product is LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and together with Senegal and Cape Verde, these countries represent 90% of the regional gas market.  Diesel oil represents 25% of petroleum use in Mauritania.

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Mauritania relies on imports to meet all commercial energy requirements.  The production is mostly based around oil and diesel fired power stations, with 22% of electricity being imported from the Manantali hydroelectric power station in Mali, which belongs to the Senegal River Development Organisation (OMVS).

Close Reliance

Extend network

National electrification rate (2011): 19%

  • Urban: < 50%
  • Semi-urban: 5%
  • Rural: 3%

Main cities are exclusively dependant on a single source. The Senegal River Development Organisation (OMVS) provides 15% of the hydropower generated in Manantali Dam. This constitutes a single interconnected network (225/90/3315 KV). All other areas and localities are supplied from off-grid separated small networks by diesel generators.

In rural areas, the electricity is quasi-inexistent, with an electrification rate of about 3%. The viability of providing electricity service based on decentralized generators and networks leads to a high compensation of the private service providers, which aggravates the financial burden of the government. The penetration rate of renewables is insignificant due to the high investment and weak willingness to pay from the rural population due to lack of revenue generating activities.

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Capacity concerns

There is a large shortage of supply, the shortfall in Nouakchott estimated at 30-40 MW, and backup generators make up half of total installed capacity in Mauritania. High international oil prices have put enormous pressure on Mauritania.

Very laggard in terms of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the power sector is characterised by multiple isolated networks, high costs of production, insufficient network supply and growing demand. Furthermore, SOMELEC (The Société Mauritanienne d’Électricité), a state-owned company, is in financial difficulty although it is in the process of recovering.

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Renewable energy

Solar energy
Mauritania has some of the highest levels of solar radiation in the world making it an ideal place for producing solar energy. The gross solar energy input is estimated at 2x109 GW h/year. Solar irradiation on the horizontal surface varies between 1900 and 2200kWh/m2 year. This potential is provided year-round and for relatively long periods of time. The solar energy available can be used continuously in an optimal manner.

Wind energy
Mauritania is the windiest country in West Africa. Wind potential is considerable, with a capacity for exploitation estimated at approximately 7644 kW/m2 year. Wind potential is ensured by three dominant winds: the maritime trade, which blows from the north west all year; the harmattan, a north-eastern wind that blows in the dry season; and a southern monsoon that displaces the intertropical face during the wet season. Wind speeds, at10m above ground level, vary between 3m/s and more than 9m/s in the north west near the Sahara.

Biomass energy
In general, Mauritania offers a broad variety of biomass resources. Formerly, about 556,000 tons of crop waste (rice husk, rice straw, etc.) were produced annually and offered an energy potential of about 3.7 GWh. Due to the ten year civil war (1991–2001) and the interruption of the country’s agricultural output, these estimates need to be revised. In 2006, the Direction of Energy estimated the available land to 3.5 million hectares (3.5 % of the overall territory), leading to a total output of about 100,000 m³.

Geothermal energy
No study has been conducted as to the geothermal potential of Mauritania, The country is largely formed from arid plains, and so geothermal potential is expected to be low.

Mauritania’s water resources are relatively limited; surface resources are essentially those of the Senegal River and its tributaries.  Underground resources, which are unequally geographically distributed, with the situation being favourable in the south, south-east and south-west.  According to the World Energy Council, the gross theoretical capability is >12 TWh/yr with a technically exploitable capacity of 5 TWh/yr.

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Energy efficiency

Econoler International has been developing energy efficiency (EE) projects in Mauritania and other countries, trying to use carbon finance to improve the financial return of these projects.

Based on figures of the Cellule de Contrôle de l’Énergie, per capita energy consumption in the country is estimated at 0.3 toe (0.17 toe without biomass) and 190 kWh electricity. Opportunities for improved energy efficiency have been identified in the transport and residential lighting and cooking sectors.

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Electricity market
The energy reform process in Mauritania started in 1998 with the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility 1999–2002 program. According to the plan, the country would progress from studies on the separation between energy and water sectors to the selling of 49% of the company within just 12 months. The schedule suffered some delays and the new electricity act, ending the monopoly of the national power utility SOMELEC, was enacted in 2001. In 2002, the government declared that the privatization of the state-owned Société Mauritanienne de l’électricité (SOMELEC, could not be completed on time due to various factors. These factors included the loss of confidence following the Enron crisis and the withdrawal of bidders. In March 2005, the Mauritanian government created a separate Ministry of Oil and Energy to handle the energy portfolio. The idea of privatizing SOMELEC was later abandoned, and the government decided instead to use "performance contracts".

Liquid fuels market
The upstream oil sector in the country is operated mostly by private firms, notably Hardman Petroleum (France), Dana Petroleum (UK), Woodside Petroleum (Australia) and British Borneo Oil and Gas (Malta). Downstream activities are co-ordinated by both government-owned companies such as the Société Mauritanienne de Commercialisation de Produits Pétroliers (SMCPP) and the Societe Nationale Industrielle et Miniere of Mauritania (SNIM), as well as private companies such as Elf and Mobil.

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SOMELEC is a vertically-integrated, state-owned institution, and exclusively responsible for the distribution and commercialization of electricity in Mauritania. The company manages the electric utilities in 20 urban centres with a total capacity of 93 MW (against 75 MW in 2005) and 18 power stations in the centre of the country. The net production was 402 GWh in 2006 (against 374 GWh in 2005).  Due to the high demand for energy, total consumption exceeds the national production by 35%-39%.  There are several self-sufficient energy producers with an estimated capacity of  40 MW.

Close Competition

Energy framework

The Government main objective is to increase production capacity to meet demand by 2015.  The objectives targeted will be achieved through the execution of an action plan whose main elements are:

  • Increasing production capacity by building a large plant of 700 MW in Nouakchott;
  • Developing a interconnected system,
  • Developing local or regional  connections for renewable energy and
  • The development of rural electrification.

This action plan will be complemented by a series of complementary measures, the most important ones are:

  • Reviewing the Electricity Code,
  • Reviewing the institutional framework,
  • Mobilizing resources to implement investments,
  • Restoring large balances of SOMELEC and
  • Introducing incentives for renewable energy development.
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Energy debates

A master plan for the electricity sector has been finalized and SOMELEC is being restructured and recapitalized under a comprehensive plan supported by the French Development Agency and the World Bank.

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Energy studies

Mauritania is not currently a member of any major energy networks, having withdrawn from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreement in 2000, and thus contributing no further to the West African Power Pool project.

The country is part of the Organisation for the Development of the Senegal River (OMVS), whose goal is to exploit hydro-electric for the purposes of powering the member states, which include Mali, Guinea and Senegal.

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Role of government

The Ministry of Energy and Power (MEP) is the governmental authority in charge of the energy and water sector. Its mandate includes policy formulation as well as sector planning and coordination. The MEP focuses on the electric power supply, including renewable energy matters like hydropower, solar and wind energy.

The overall market for petroleum products is coordinated by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) with participation of the Ministry of Finance (MF) playing a significant role in the import and storage of petroleum products. The ongoing and planned oil exploration and extraction is part of the responsibility of a Presidential Petroleum Commission. The Ministry of Mineral Resources (MMR) deals with the exploitation of minerals.

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Government agencies

The Ministry of Agriculture (MA) is in charge of all biomass issues (plant as well as animal derived matter) with a special focus on wood and its sustainable use as an energy source.

  • National Renewable Energy Agency (ADER)

By way of a government decree (No. 2001-065 of June 18th, 2001), ADER (Agence Nationale de Développement des Energies Renouvellables) was created as a commercial entity with a public mandate to promote, supervise and raise financing for renewable energy projects on rural electrification in the country.

In Mauritania some of the isolated grids are under the umbrella of ADER, who provide  financial subsidies (60-80% on initial investment), and technical support in management to local and small private operators.

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Energy procedure

  • Energy Action Plan (2011-2015)

As part of its Energy Action Plan (2011-2015) to control global warming, the Government gives priority to the implementation of a policy based on the dissemination of more effective energy choices that combine efficiency and viability for all forms of energy (lighting, electricity production, access to water, gas and ICT, etc.). The action plan envisages the establishment of a specific window for renewable energy sources, the development of which will be supported by the promotion of hybrid electrification systems (solar-wind-biofuel) and appropriate alternative technologies for rural areas with a population between 500 and 1,500 inhabitants.

Two new programs began in 2011 in Mauritania, which were selected by the European Union as part of the “Energy Facility” call for proposals: one aims to produce 100 solar (or hybrid) rural platforms that make it possible to develop small-scale or domestic services; the other aims to utilize Typha charcoal along the Senegal River.

  • Rural Electrification Project (PERUB) in Brakna / Mauritania 2008 - 2011

PERUB is financed by the: European Union, APAUS and the Mauritanian Ministry of Housing with a Budget of  €1.6 million.

The goal of this project is to provide energy to twenty-five villages in the Brakna region by installing energy service platforms using solar energy. The service supply is composed of “modules” chosen by each village according to its needs, such as cold production, battery and telephone charging, access to television, cereal grinding, or even the development of small-scale activities (welding, hair styling, tire repair, etc.). In each village, a Village Electrification Committee (VEC) is responsible for the proper operation of the system. It recruits a manager to perform technical monitoring of the platform, and signs contracts with private operators for each service.

After the definition and testing phase, the platform model was able to be rolled out in nineteen new villages in 2010. A Mauritanian company builds these platforms, and a procurement contract was awarded to a German company for all of the electrical equipment that were installed progressively during the first half of 2011. A maintenance solution was proposed, entrusting responsibility for the system to the communes and village committees, which will recruit a regional agent to fulfil these functions. This solution, which should be able to be replicated in other areas of Mauritania where platform programs are present, will be set up progressively in 2011.

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Energy regulator

The rural electrification framework of Mauritania is regulated by The Ministry of Energy and Power (MEP), the Regulatory Authority (ARE,, and the Agency for the Promotion of Universal Access to Regulated Services and the Rural Electrification Development Agency.

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Degree of independence

The Authority of Regulation is composed of a National Council of five members and Operational Directors under the authority of the President.

The council of the Authority consists of 5 members, 3 appointed by the President of the Republic, one by the President of the Senate, and one by the President of the National Assembly.

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Regulatory framework

There is no dedicated framework for sustainable energy.

Mauritania’s prices for petroleum products are set by the individual distribution companies, according to their actual economic costs.

The selling price of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) is fixed by a joint decree of the Ministries of Energy and Power and the Ministry for Trade and Industry (MTI). In theory, the price for LPG is fixed every month according to the fluctuation of spot market prices; the prices, however, have not been modified since 18 July 2001.

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Regulatory roles

  • Liberalisation activities related to the importation, storage and distribution of oil products.
  • Definition of a transparent price policy for oil products. This includes the establishment of a the National Commission of Hydrocarbons (CNH)  as a regulatory body.
  • Suppression of national territory monopoly for electricity services delivery.
  • Creation of a regulation framework promoting private sector participation in electricity services delivery.
  • Preparation of privatization conditions for SOMELEC to serve 20 urban plants and 83% of the urban population.
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Energy regulation role

While the MEP determines the sector development policy including standards and a decentralised electrification strategy, the Rural Electrification Development Agency deals with programs and investment incentives for rural electrification.

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Regulatory barriers

The lack of adequate policies and an appropriate legal and regulatory framework are the most significant barriers for implementation of Renewable Energy and increased electricity access. Many potential investors have asked for a commitment to liberalise the power sector of Mauritania. Some of the issues relating to the development of entrepreneurship for rural electricity supply and grid connection projects remain unclear.

Another barrier is the lack of financing and funding mechanisms. Operators and investors wanting to get involved in the sector have often abandoned their activities because of the lack of sufficient support mechanisms.

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AfDB (2011): Mauritania: results-based country strategy paper (RBCSP) 2011-2015. Available at [Acessed 7th September 2013]

AfDB, OECD, UNDP, UNECA (2011): African Economic Outlook 2011. Available at [Acessed 7th September 2013]

IMF (2010): Staff Country Report – Mauritania. Available at [Acessed 7th September 2013]

Angel Antonio Bayod Rújula, Nourou Khalidou Dia (2010): Application of a multi-criteria analysis for the selection of the most suitable energy source and water desalination system in Mauritania. Available at (subcribers to only) [Acessed 7th September 2013]

Islamic Development Bank (2011): Partnership Strategy for Mauritania. Available at [Acessed 7th September 2013]

Round Table for Mauritania, UNDP, World Bank and EU (2010) Stability and Development of Mauritania : An Imperative for Regional and International Security. Avaliable at: [Acessed 7th September 2013]

UNDP (2008) ADRAR Solar Initiative and Decentralized Electrification in the Northern Coastline of Mauritania through Hybrid (Wind/Diesel) Systems. Available at [Acessed 7th September 2013]

Moner-Girona (2008) A New Scheme for the Promotion of Renewable Energies in Developing Countries: The Renewable Energy Regulated Purchase Tariff. Available at: [Acessed 7th September 2013] (2011): France supports Mauritania electricity sector. Available at: [Acessed 7th September 2013] (2011): Mauritania: energy profile. Available at [Acessed 7th September 2013]

International Renewable Energy Agency (2010) Renewable Energy Country Profile; Mauritania. Available at: [Acessed 7th September 2013]

GTZ (2009) 'Mauritania' in Renewable Energies in West Africa. Available at: [Acessed 7th September 2013] Close References