Chad : An emerging country by 2030, Myth or Reality?

The country of Chad aims to be an emerging market on the global stage by 2030 but Chad, a landlocked Sahelian country in central Africa, is dealing with security issues related to border conflicts as well as the effects of climate change, specifically accelerated desertification and the drying up of Lake Chad. Chad is still dealing with the consequences of neighbouring country tensions, with over 450,000 refugees from Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Nigeria. It is also a country currently in political limbo. All these and others are challenges which have thrown doubts on the legitimacy of the dream of development. 

The question of Chad’s future can be tricky as the expectations must be tempered with reality, however, to fully understand the trajectory is to fully understand the three main factors which will affect the country; Economy, Political stability, and Security.

The economy of Chad has been affected by the other two factors, just like it usually happens because the economy is largely dependent on societal stability. The economy has also been affected by the covid-19 pandemic and has hit a lull just like the rest of the world. In 2020, the country entered a new recession, with GDP contracting by an estimated 0.9% compared to the pre-pandemic projected growth rate of 4.8%, and per capita GDP contracting by 3.8%. A rising debt service-to-revenue ratio precipitated a liquidity crisis, and the country faced external debt distress by 2021. In January 2021, Chad requested a debt restructuring. In 2021, the economy is expected to recover slowly with the oil market, with a growth of 0.9% (-2.0% per capita), despite economic disruptions caused by conflict and political unrest. The deployment of COVID-19 vaccines in 2022 is expected to provide a slight boost to the recovery in 2022-2023, with economic growth averaging 2.4%. However, a potential delay in debt restructuring (required for donor support) could exacerbate liquidity issues and paralyze public and private sector activities. In the short term, assistance is urgently needed for the poorest and most vulnerable populations, who may be disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s aftermath.

Political stability will also greatly impact how well Chad does in future. After the death of long-time President Idris Deby, the country has been in political non-passes for the past year. With promises and the ensuing breaking of such promises has not filled anybody with confidence. The son of the late President is currently in charge of the country as the head of an interim government and although he has promised a transition to democratic rule, it has been a catalogue of excuses. The interim government has been criticised for a lot of things, including the legitimacy of its claim to leadership. Taking over from his father who was democratically elected has been rightly labelled as a de facto coup d’état. The unsettled air around the nation doesn’t help with business and economic advancement which would derail the expected growth of the poor nation.

Security has been a stable problem affecting the people of Chad for decades now. Chad is located at the crossroads of several neighbouring conflicts, making it vulnerable to cross-border insecurity and spill over. Non-state armed groups based in Libya, the Central African Republic, and Sudan, including the group that assassinated former President Déby, can move freely across Chad’s borders. Furthermore, Islamist insurgencies in the central Sahel, such as Boko Haram, Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), and the Islamic State of the Greater Sahara, could escalate violence as Chadian forces withdraw from counterterrorism operations and borders remain open. Even if the violence does not cause further instability, migrant influxes fleeing conflict put a strain on the country’s strained social services and limited resources, potentially exacerbating community tensions.

How can Chad fulfil “vision 2030: the Chad we want”?

The vision’s main objective is to make Chad an emerging country by 2030. Specially, this entails: consolidating the foundations of good governance and the rule of law by strengthening national cohesion and creating the conditions for sustainable development. To meet these objectives, four strategic axes have been identified: strengthening national unity, strengthening good governance and the rule of law, developing a diversified and competitive economy and improving the quality of life of Chad people.

Chad is in a particularly precarious position due to the quadruple burden of extremist insecurity, extreme poverty, political instability, and COVID-19. Nonetheless, there is a way for Chad to diversify its economy and increase non-oil revenue mobilization by leveraging its oil revenues. Diversification plans can prioritize agricultural and livestock mechanization and expansion, value chain development, and improved pricing to ensure food availability and revenue mobilization. However, it will require financial support from the international community to deliver concerted pro-poor economic and social measures to address the low resource mobilization and structural risks imposed by the impact of COVID-19, as well as to reduce the disparity in welfare distribution. Chad must prioritize interventions that reduce rural-urban disparities. Interventions must focus on rural areas where poverty is prevalent. There is an urgent need to implement programs to strengthen the social safety net of the extremely poor—the World Bank estimates that 42% of the population lives below the national poverty line. Special anti-poverty interventions must target the female population, which is estimated to be less educated and poorer than men. Donors can help, but the Chadian government must take ownership of the initiatives.

Photo: UN

Addressing issues such as basic service delivery, food security, and climatic hazards, among others, will result in inclusive and sustainable development. Basic services are critical components of both economic development and fundamental human rights. To improve universal access and the living environment, development assistance can increase targeted public spending on improving healthcare access and quality, sanitation, electricity, and education systems. Furthermore, policymakers must consider policy options for improving food security and mitigating climate risks. Climatic hazards, particularly drought and high temperatures in the north and centre of the country, as well as flooding in the south, continue to pose a significant threat to food security.

Unemployment remains a threat to national security. Unemployed youth, dissatisfied with years of stagnant national development and corruption, are unable to secure high-paying jobs under current economic conditions. According to the World Bank, the Chadian informal private sector employs 96% of the labour force. To increase employment and working conditions in the informal private sector, the donor community should consider supporting skill-development and job-creation initiatives. An investment in generating national-level data to inform development planning, targeting, and intervention would also help link planned actions to Chadians’ actual problems.

Chad can be expected to be an emerging country by 2030 and so it is not a myth. The plans set in motion (SDGs, Vision 2030: he chad we want, etc.) are well structured to lead the country to the Promised Land. To say all this means that it is not a myth, however, the reality is that a lot (as detailed above) has to be implemented and issues such as the success of the political transition, the returning of constitutional order, the stability, the enhancement of peace and reconciliation have to be addressed in order for Chad to meet its goal by 2030.

About the author

Olivier Noudjalbaye Dedingar

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