Madagascar is a large island in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of southern Africa, east of Mozambique. It has a total area of 587,040 square kilometres, a population of 28.9 million, and a GDP of US$14.5bn.
Madagascar has the world’s largest reserves of sapphires, as well as unexploited deposits of coal, lithium, uranium, bauxite, iron ore and vanadium, while chromite, cobalt, copper, gemstones, gold, graphite, nickel, ilmenite, rutile, zircon, granite, dolomite, limestone, marble and gypsum are also produced.
Real GDP grew 4.2% in 2022, down from 5.7% in 2021, due to the effects of tropical storms and cyclones, the pandemic, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Growth was boosted by the mining sector (up 23.6%) and the recovery in tourism, especially the hotel and restaurant sector, on the supply side and by investment (23.4% of GDP) and higher exports on the demand side. Inflation reached 8.1% in 2022, driven by higher energy and food prices. To mitigate the effects of inflation, the government capped the price of basic products (rice, sugar, cement), raised government employee wages 17% on average, and reduced the value added tax on fuel from 20% to 15%.
GDP is projected to grow 4.2% in 2023 and 5.0% in 2024, driven by a rebound in mining and quarrying and continued recovery in tourism on the supply side, and by investment and exports of minerals that contribute to the energy transition (graphite, nickel, cobalt) on the demand side. Inflation is projected to rise to 9.5% in 2023 before falling to 8.2% in 2024.
Madagascar was Africa’s second-largest cobalt, third-largest chromite producer, fifth-largest ilmenite and zircon producer and the world’s fourth-largest producer of graphite.
Most of the country’s mining companies are privately-owned, while state-owned Kraomita Malagasy (KRAOMA) is Madagascar’s only chromite mining company. In 2019, Australian company Base Resources announced the results of a feasibility study for its Toliara project in Madagascar, which indicated the US$442m operation could produce an average of 780,000t per year of ilmenite, 53,000t of zircon and 7,000t of rutile for 33 years. Artisanal miners produce gemstones, gold, nickel, chromite, copper, cobalt, ilmenite, rutile, graphite and zircon, with about 70% of the country’s estimated 500,000 artisanal miners believed to be involved in gold mining.
Madagascar supplies approximately 80% of the world’s vanilla as well as other agricultural products including coffee, sugarcane, palm oil, cloves, cocoa, rice, cassava, beans, bananas and peanuts. It also derives revenue from fishing, forestry and hydropower.
Renowned for its biodiversity and its unique flora and fauna, Madagascar is often described the 'Galapagos of the African continent'. With its exceptional natural heritage, including magnificent tropical beaches, the island has been earmarked for development as a premier tourist destination.
Despite its abundance of natural resources, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world and is classified by the United Nations (UN) as one of the world's least developed countries. According to the World Bank, 92% of the population lives on less than US$2 per day. The predominantly rural population suffers from chronic malnutrition, with 50% of all children under the age of five suffering from stunting.
Sources: Who Owns Whom sector reports, CIA Factbook, African Development Bank, World Bank, Trading Economics, African Statistical Yearbook and IMF.