Mauritania Central Bank Says Growth To Exceed 6% in 2014

Mauritania’s economy is forecast to expand more than 6 percent for a third consecutive year in 2014, enabling the West African nation to create its first stock exchange and reduce borrowing, central bank Governor Sid’ahmed Ould Raiss said.

Growth is projected to reach 6.5 percent this year, compared with 6.4 percent in 2013 and 6.9 percent in the previous year, Raiss said in an interview in the capital, Nouakchott, yesterday. Inflation averaged 5 percent in 2013, he said.

Mauritania is Africa’s biggest exporter of iron ore after South Africa and also produces gold and copper, with companies including Kinross Gold Corp. and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. having operations in the country. About 42 percent of the 3.8 million population live in poverty, according to the World Bank.

The central bank is aiming to spur economic growth and keep inflation stable to help alleviate poverty and boost jobs, Raiss said. The bank “will continue to combine a prudent monetary policy with a flexible exchange rate to reinforce the competitiveness of the national economy,” he said.

The local currency, the ouguiya, dropped 0.7 percent to 292.50 at 3:59 p.m. in Nouakchott. It gained 4 percent against the dollar last year.

Mauritania will probably scale back its Treasury bill sales this year following an increase in foreign-currency reserves, Raiss said. Reserves covered more than seven months of import requirements in 2013, he said.

The government plans to create its first stock market in Nouakchott this year, Raiss said, without giving further details. It is also completing studies on the regulation of Islamic banks and sukuks, he said.

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