Economic studies
Chad

Chad

Population 12.2 million
GDP 810 US$
D
Country risk assessment
E
Business Climate
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2016 2017 2018 (e) 2019 (f)
GDP growth (%) -6.4 -3.1 3.5 3.6
Inflation (yearly average, %) -1.1 -0.9 2.1 2.6
Budget balance (% GDP) -2.0 -0.2 1.3 0.6
Current account balance (% GDP) -9.2 -5.6 -4.2 -5.5
Public debt (% GDP) 52.4 52.5 49.2 45.4

 

(e): Estimate. (f): Forecast.

STRENGTHS

  • Exploitation of new oil fields
  • Development potential of the agricultural sector (50% of GDP)

WEAKNESSES

  • Very high poverty rate (40% of the population in 2019 according to the World Bank)
  • Over-reliant on oil (about 20% of GDP and 60% of exports)
  • Business climate not conducive to thriving private sector; high level of corruption
  • Geographically isolated
  • Worsening security conditions at both national and regional levels (role of Boko Haram)
  • Worrying drought of Lake Chad, with negative effects on cotton, fishing and the environment.

RISK ASSESSMENT

Growth and structural efforts

Chad experienced a series of positive events in 2018, the benefits of which should continue to be felt in 2019 with the consolidation of the economic recovery. The high price of oil, which the country exports, will continue to contribute to growth in 2019. Looking to take advantage of the upbeat economic conditions and the extra fiscal leeway gained in 2018 through the rescheduling of the debt owed to the Glencore mining company, the country has decided to maximise the sector’s potential by financing seven new oil projects in addition to those already underway, including the Rig-Rig refinery, which should start production in 2019. To restore its public finances, as requested by the IMF, the government has agreed to sell CotonTchad, a state-owned cotton company in serious financial difficulty, to Olam International, a Japanese Singaporean company. The purpose of this sale is also to revive a flagging sector whose production hit a 75-year low in 2017 (25,000 tonnes of seed cotton), with a target of 300,000 tonnes in 2023. The cotton sector and, more generally, agriculture, which has been affected by the rapid drying-up of Lake Chad, are at the heart of the Five-Year Development Plan (2017-2021). Increased agricultural production and yields are expected to contribute to the recovery of the economy through private consumption channels (75% of the working population works in agriculture and 85% of the total population depends on it) and exports, which are expected to expand for a second year, thanks in particular to the slight improvement in the Nigerian economy, which has boosted external demand.

Debt rescheduling and IMF financial assistance are helping to ease fiscal pressure

For the second year running, the public accounts will show a surplus in 2019, again providing debt relief. Oil revenues are expected to increase, benefiting from global economic conditions and rising production. These revenues, which until now have been 90% used to service the debt (USD 1.36 billion) owed to Glencore, may be used to finance investment, notably thanks to the debt rescheduling obtained in early 2018. Shortly after the rescheduling, the IMF, reassured by the easing of fiscal pressure, decided to release disbursement of the next stage of funding under the ECF negotiated with the country in 2017. In return, the government was asked to continue fiscal consolidation reforms, including better management of the wage bill, which resulted in the sale of CotonTchad.

The current account is expected to deteriorate slightly. Although the trade balance is structurally slightly positive thanks to oil, livestock and cotton exports, it is largely offset by the deficit in services (particularly oil-related), which is much larger, at close to 20% of GDP. The deterioration in the current account balance should be mitigated by the continued high level of transfers (10% of GDP in 2017), mainly by expatriates, and by the positive impact on the income balance of the debt rescheduling with Glencore. A strong performance from net FDI (4% of GDP) should ensure that financing is provided for this small deficit. Foreign exchange reserves, while continuing to increase, will remain at the low and potentially risky level of about 2.5 months of imports.

Fighting insecurity is the top priority

The parliamentary elections, which were due to be held in November 2018, after being cancelled in 2017 due to lack of financial resources, were again postponed to May 2019.

The social and security situation remains extremely fragile. The terrorist group Boko Haram, which rebuilt itself after its military defeat, remains very active in the west of the country, killing 17 farmers in June and six in September 2018. These attacks have triggered internal population movements, in addition to inflows of migrants from surrounding conflict-struck countries, including Sudan and the Central African Republic. The country has therefore decided to step up in the fight against terrorism by participating in the G5 Sahel force and by making insecurity a central theme of its presidency of the CEMAC from 2017 to 2022. Increased security spending, combined with demands for IMF budgetary efforts, have led to delays in payment of civil servants’ salaries, resulting in strikes and protests in 2018. The situation could therefore continue to worsen in 2019 if budgetary pressure returns.

These uncertainties about the social and security situation are having a significant impact on the business environment, with the country coming 181th out of 190 in the Doing Business 2019 ranking.

 

Last update : February 2019

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