Chad Economics and Business


Abbreviated as TCD by, 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.

Chad GDP (Nominal, $USD) 2003-2017


According to 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.

Natural Resources

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 forest stock.


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 Sarh.

Note: the capital city of Chad is N’Djamena with a population of 1,423,000 (with suburbs, UN estimate 2020). Other major cities include Moundou, Abéché, Sarh.

Foreign trade

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.

Chad Economics and Business

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