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

Economic conditions. – Nine-tenths of the population derive their resources from the agricultural sector. It is estimated that the arable land with those occupied by tree crops (palm groves) extend over 6% of the territorial surface; meadows and pastures occupy 35%; forest areas 13%, while the rest is uncultivated and unproductive (46%).

Agriculture is still practiced in an itinerant way, abandoning the land when it loses its fertility and moving to places where the trees of the forest (except for some useful plants) are set on fire. The work in the fields is regulated by the seasonal rhythm, giving prevalence to crops suitable for meeting food needs. The cultivation of cotton has found favorable conditions in the southern regions, but sometimes it suffers from excessive drought; Cotonfran, which has a monopoly on trade and owns about twenty ginners, takes care of it. The rubber is harvested from acacias in their natural state between 11 ° and 15 ° lat. N. Polders have been created along the shores of Lake Chad, reclaiming 15,000 ha, of which 2000 have already been cultivated (wheat); Work to extend crops is underway in the Mandoul Valley. An economic and social development plan (1971-80) envisages the strengthening of agriculture, using the waters of the Logone to further extend rice cultivation, which found favorable conditions in the areas of Bongor and Lai-kelo. But where it is not possible to irrigate the land, crops are often made uncertain due to prolonged droughts (1973-74).

The indigenous people are fed in part by millet (from which a beer is also obtained) and cassava (in progress in the southern regions), in part by fishing, practiced on Lake Chad and on the Sciari and Baguirmi rivers (over 100,000 t of catch). The breeding is numerically large (both cattle and sheep-goats outnumber the residents), but subject to diseases and massacres due to lack of water; transhumance and nomadism are practiced on a large scale.

The products of agriculture and livestock are the basis of an incipient industrial activity, which finds it difficult to develop due to the scarce resources of the residents. An important problem is that of better distributing international aid, so far hoarded by the ruling class. Furthermore, there is a lively imbalance between a modern, industrial and commercial sector, strongly Europeanized and outward-looking (especially Nigeria) and a traditional sector, essentially African and agricultural.

Trade and communication routes. – Trade often still takes place in traditional forms (barter). Cotton (both seeds and fiber) and peanuts are, together with livestock, hides and skins and some vegetable resins, the main exported goods, but the trade balance is highly passive. Traffic with neighboring countries takes place by means of roads, all of which are long and expensive to build and maintain. First of all, the “federal road” that connects the capital to Pointe-Noire (2975 km). Then the two routes through Nigeria, one terrestrial, which leads to Lagos, the other fluvial (which uses the Benué, practicable for only 2 months a year); then the Sudanese route to the east and finally the very long Trans-Saharan route to the north.

Internal state, far from the sea (the nearest port is 1500 km away), Chad suffers from the disadvantages associated with isolation (relations with neighboring countries are limited), with communications still inadequate, with the fragility of the economy, with the excessive weight of the bureaucratic apparatus and ancient traditions that it is not easy to put aside entirely.

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