Brussels, 1 February 2022, OACPS: At the end of the 6-month mission deployed in the framework of the Policy Support Facility (PSF) of the OACPS Research and Innovation (R&I) Programme, Mauritania has two key publications to help it develop the first research and innovation strategy.

Requested by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Mauritania (MESRS), through the National Agency for Scientific Research and Innovation (ANRSI), the PSF service has produced a Country Background Report and a Policy Recommendation Report, on which the country will be able to build an inclusive R&I strategy (2022-2026) that will better respond to the country’s socio-economic challenges and exploit its enormous potential, in order to accelerate sustainable development.

The Country Background Report, prepared by two independent experts, provided a better understanding of the national R&I system, its needs, challenges and recent developments. Despite significant reforms to improve the performance of this sector of the economy, Research and Development (R&D) spending accounts for only about 0.1% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), one of the lowest rates in Africa, and is mainly government-driven.

A strategy promoting innovation and scientific research is therefore needed, in particular to involve the private sector more and create synergies between all actors, by establishing thematic and regional clusters on sectors to be prioritised, such as digitalisation, renewable energies and green hydrogen, water, mining, agriculture and fisheries, given their great potential for growth and innovation.

The panel of four international experts tasked with formulating policy recommendations drew on this comprehensive analysis of Mauritania’s R&I system, complemented by information they gathered in the field from a wide range of R&I actors, and by discussions with the national team and the technical assistance unit of the Policy Support Facility (PSF), to develop the Policy Recommendations Report (PRR).

Their 20 recommendations cover six areas of action:

  • A strengthening of the R&I governance system, based on the High Council for Scientific Research and Innovation (HCRSI), the ANRSI and the Mauritanian Authority for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (AMAQ-ES).
  • A substantial increase in the budget allocated to R&I (aiming for between 0.3 and 0.6% of GDP by 2026), combined with the optimisation of research funding procedures.
  • An inclusive investment in human capital, to mobilise the necessary skills and knowledge, including knowledge, on R&I priorities: creation of a “Mauritanian research space”, mobilisation of the diaspora, valorisation of the researcher’s profession, masters and doctorate training associated with clusters and sectoral centres of excellence, among others.
  • The creation of centers of research excellence, with high-tech equipment.
  • A better synergy between R&I and the productive and societal environment (multi-year innovation support programme, support for the incubation and emergence of start-ups, increased role of large companies in R&I, public ordering of innovative products or services, incentives to export local products with higher added value).
  • A strengthening of international cooperation to support the reform of the national R&I system, and to better connect it to the rest of the world.

Mauritania is the second country to benefit from the innovative PSF mechanism, launched in January 2021 by the OACPS Research and Innovation Programme, and funded by the European Union, to unlock innovation potential in the 79 OACPS member countries.

To learn more about the weaknesses, strengths and opportunities of the Mauritanian R&I ecosystem, download the Country Background Report(available in French only).

To learn more about recommendations to enhance the national R&I ecosystem in Mauritania, download the Policy Recommendation Report(available in French only).