Diplomatic Visit sees Mauritania and Spain Forge Stronger Ties

Mauritania. Spain.

The treaty, first penned in 2008, was initially left unratified following the Mauritanian coup d’état in that year, but with the nation’s current political stability marking it out as a regional leader and Europe’s burgeoning interest in West African hydrocarbon reserves, both parties agreed it was past time that they treaty once set aside by revisited and put into law. 

The fresh pace of change in the two countries’ relations was equally heightened by an earlier diplomatic mission undertaken in March by Mauritanian President H.E. Mohamed Ould El Ghazwani to Spain, meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and King Felipe VI- the first visit to the nation by a Mauritanian head of state since 2008.

What does this new era herald? At the outset, Spain’s interest in Mauritania’s exponentially growing hydrocarbon and green hydrogen industries is evident, industry analysts touting the likely possibility of a new gas pipeline extension bringing that connecting Morocco to Spain and wider Europe right down the coast to Mauritania as the country sets its sights on 10 million tons of liquefied natural gas per annum from its 15 trillion cubic feet Greater Tortue Ahmeyim project.

Last year alone, Mauritania signed memorandums of understanding for 40GW of green hydrogen undertakings in-country over the next decade bringing in $43.5 billion in investment, and although a further MoU has lined up export commencing 2026 with the Netherlands, Spain’s demand for the good is indubitable with its own $10.5 billion 2030 green hydrogen production/ integration goal.

September this year will bring the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power Conference to the region, Mauritania’s Ministry of Petroleum, Energy and Mines a key partner in the event with a record 28 offshore blocks set to be licensed in the nation this year. And, being opened by H.E. Macky Sall, Senegalese President and African Union Chairperson, this year’s event will take on a distinctly international tone, host nation Senegal having received diplomatic visits from such international dignitaries as the UN Secretary General, South African, Turkish, Ugandan, German and World Bank Presidents all in recent months. International financiers are expected to flock to the event from across not only Africa but Europe, Asia, America, Australia and the Middle East as billions of dollars of projects enter pipelines across these MSGBC nations.

In short, the timing of Spain and Mauritania’s newfound friendship could not be more ideal. Already the nation is a major trading partner for Mauritania, buying up 4.1% of the country’s exports and providing 5.1% of its imports in a mutually beneficial business flow. New treaties will only see that number grow alongside Spanish investment sums channeled into West Africa’s new energy megadevelopments. A further memorandum of understanding during the President’s March mission between the Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Mauritanians Abroad and the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation started the wave by revitalizing two more older bilateral frameworks: 1989’s Joint Cultural Committee and 1990’s Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Committee to meet in Nouakchott and Madrid respectively before year’s out. Respective foreign embassies and consulate-generals for the two nations have existed since the outset of official diplomatic relations in the 1960s, but with this fresh momentum, we now see the Spanish State Secretary preparing a landmark visit to Mauritania and the Cervantes Institute stepping in to teach Spanish in Mauritania and Arabic in Spain, further strengthening diplomacy.

Ultimately, what this year’s Spain-Mauritania friendship resurgence means has yet to witnessed, but with MSGBC 2022 fast approaching, it’s clear that international interest in West African energy is rapidly heating up. A major theme of the event itself will be security, wherein Mauritania as the only active NATO partner in the region plays a leading role, granting it an invitation to the forthcoming Madrid Summit and making it a hot target for foreign direct investment. To register for the event at this unprecedented time in the African power sector and join in the writing of its future, visit https://msgbcoilgasandpower.com/.

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Onur Yilmaz

Onur Yilmaz

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