Economy & Industry

A new oil state

Significant oil reserves were discovered in Chad and oil began pumping in 2003. Oil wealth has led to new construction and infrastructure projects, including the building of many roads.

Transporting oil

The first pipeline built for Chad’s oil runs through Cameroon. It connects the Doba basin to the port of Kribi on the Cameroon coast – see Cameroon map, Cameroon Economy & Industry.

Investment in the oil sector has been made possible by a more peaceful environment. Despite a history of instability and conflict – see History & Politics – the last few years have been relatively stable.

However, the return of migrant workers from Libya is a strain on the country. As well as suffering from a drop in remittances paid by migrants abroad (sending money home), Chad is struggling with drought across the Sahel region.

Traditional farming and fishing

Harvesting vegetablesWhile a small section of society benefits from the new oil wealth, most of Chad’s population continue to rely on agriculture. Many Chadians raise livestock or grow food for their families with subsistence farming.

The effects of climate change – see Climate & Agriculture – are making it increasingly difficult for people in certain areas to produce enough food.

Meat from livestock – cattle, sheep and goats – is a major agricultural export. Animal skins are also shipped to neighbouring markets.

Smoked and dried fish are important in the south, though catches from Lake Chad have been declining due to the shrinking of the lake – see Lake Chad.

Investment in key sectors

Agricultural exports

Peanuts, tea and tobacco are exported. And gum arabic from acacia trees is sold to European and US companies for the drinks and food industry.

Cotton is a key export – see Cotton. It was the country’s top agricultural earner in 2009, bringing in revenue of nearly 22 million dollars in 2009 (according to the Food and Agriculture Organization). However, investment in the industry is badly needed.

The same is true for other areas of the economy. For example, Chad's natural resources include gold and uranium. However the mining sector has yet to receive the same level of investment as the oil industry.

Investors are often deterred by a very difficult business climate. In 2012, Chad was ranked bottom in the world for ease of doing business by the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank).