Chad is one of the region's poorest countries. Drought,
civil war and administrative problems have contributed to
the economy not developing. The economy is based on
agriculture, which employs about 80 percent of the labor
force. Housing demand cultivation dominates, and only about
5 percent of the population has money income.
Underemployment and hidden unemployment are widespread, as
are seasonal labor migration to neighboring countries.
In the early 1990s, oil was discovered in the southern
parts of the country, and oil production started in the
early 2000s. In 2003, a 1,000-km-long oil pipeline was
opened to the port city of Kribi in Cameroon, which has
contributed to oil exports becoming the country's most
important source of income.
COUNTRYAAH, only 3 percent of the country's area is cultivated.
Agriculture, which is undeveloped, is concentrated in
southern Chad. Nomadising livestock breeding is found mostly
in the middle parts of the country. In the north, single
crops occur in oases. In the 1970s and 1980s, Chad suffered
from recurring droughts and famine disasters. Even during
the 1990s, the country was plagued several times by severe
drought. However, during years of normal rainfall, the
country is almost self-sufficient with food. Cotton is grown
for export. The most important consumption crops are
sorghum, millet, beans, sesame, sweet potato and cassava.
Chad has rich mineral resources, but civil war and poor
infrastructure have slowed recovery. In the early 1990s, oil
was found on Lake Chad, but internal unrest prevented
production from commencing until the early 2000s. Nowadays
it is the country's most important source of income. The
fishing in Lake Chad and in the rivers Logone and Chari are
rewarding. Most of the catch is consumed in the country. The
majority of the country's households use firewood, which has
resulted in the destruction of large parts of the country's
In addition to the oil industry, the industrial sector is
small; Chad is one of Africa's least industrialized
countries. An insignificant domestic market as well as a
lack of raw materials and educated labor are obstacles to
the expansion of the industry. Many facilities were also
destroyed during the civil war. The industry that exists,
after all, is focused on the processing of agricultural
products (textiles, food and tobacco). The industry is
highly concentrated in the cities of N'Djamena, Moundou and
Chad has had a large trade deficit for many years and was
therefore dependent on foreign (mainly French) aid. However,
oil deposits in southern Chad have led to a substantial
increase in export revenues and the country now has a
surplus in the trade balance. Foreign trade is made more
difficult by unrest, large distances and inadequate
communications. Smuggling (mainly of live animals) occurs to
a large extent.
The main export goods are oil, cotton and cotton
products, live animals and meat. Imports mainly comprise
machinery and transport equipment, factory products, fuel,
chemicals and food. The most important trading partners are
the USA, China, France and Cameroon.