The Worst Economies in the World

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4. Mauritania
> GCI score (1-7): 3.00
> GDP per capita: $2,331 (21st lowest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 87.7% (22nd highest)
> Pct. of residents using Internet: 6.2% (17th lowest)
> Biggest problem in doing business: Access to financing

Like several other African nations, Mauritania is both one of the world’s poorest nations. While much of the population remains highly dependent on agriculture, segments of Mauritania’s economy utilize natural resource extraction for growth. The country started extracting oil off its western coast in 2006, and the Chinguetti and Tiof oil fields are expected to hold enormous quantities of oil reserves. Future prosperity may be hampered, however, by underdeveloped financial institutions and poor health among the country’s residents. Access to financing was cited as — by far — the most problematic factor for doing business in the country. Additionally, there were 350 new cases of tuberculosis last year, among the highest rates in the world. Tuberculosis will continue to have a serious impact on Mauritanian business in the next five years.

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3. Yemen
> GCI score (1-7): 2.95
> GDP per capita: $2,396 (23rd lowest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 49.9% (57th highest)
> Pct. of residents using Internet: 20.0% (43rd lowest)
> Biggest problem in doing business: Inadequate supply of infrastructure

Limitations on doing business in Yemen stem primarily from security concerns. With the allies waging war on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan throughout much of the past decade, al-Qaeda found a haven in Yemen. The threat of terrorism, crime, and violence pose some of the greatest costs to doing business in Yemen, according to WEF. National police services were also rated among the least reliable in the world. The state of the country’s infrastructure is perhaps even more detrimental to competitiveness. The electrical supply, for example, is plagued with frequent interruptions and voltage fluctuations and is among the least reliable worldwide.

2. Chad
> GCI score (1-7): 2.84
> GDP per capita: $2,786 (27th lowest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 30.2% (36th lowest)
> Pct. of residents using Internet: 2.3% (9th lowest)
> Biggest problem in doing business: Access to financing

Chad suffers from internal conflicts, poor education, and lack of infrastructure. Tensions in Chad come primarily from conflicts among the Muslim population in the northern part of the country and the largely Christian communities in the south. Less than a quarter of Chad’s school-aged population was enrolled in secondary education in 2012, the lowest rate among all countries reviewed. Even for students who go to school, educational resources are extremely scarce. The quality of Internet access in schools, for example, was rated the worst in the world. The overall quality of Chad’s infrastructure was also rated worse than every country reviewed.

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1. Guinea
> GCI score (1-7): 2.79
> GDP per capita: $1,178 (5th lowest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 37.8% (57th lowest)
> Pct. of residents using Internet: 1.6% (4th lowest)
> Biggest problem in doing business: Access to financing

Guinea was rated by the WEF as the world’s least competitive economy. No country was awarded a worse rating for the provision of basic requirements. The lack of infrastructure is especially problematic for the country, which had some of the world’s lowest quality roads and poorest electricity supply. A macroeconomic environment characterized by a lack of savings and high inflation also limits Guinea’s competitiveness. The country, which is rich in metals resource, derives much of its export revenue from bauxite — used in making aluminum. However, Guinea’s weak economic development makes attracting investment to its mining sector difficult. Access to financing was cited as the greatest problem for doing business in Guinea.