Chad’s Economy and its Geographic Prison

May 13, 2020

Jesutimilehin Akamo



Key Judgements

KJ1. Chad is landlocked and it is a major problem for its economy.


KJ2. It is almost certain that the uneven ratio between Chad’s population and its geographic size isolates many communities from internal and external markets.


KJ3. There is a realistic probability that the diversification attempt will fail if the government does not attend to the problem of market accessibility.


KJ4. It is highly likely that Chad will find it difficult to attract investors because its markets are inaccessible.





Chad shares a border with Niger to the North West; with Nigeria and Cameroon to the south-west. The Central African Republic borders Chad to the south; Sudan to the East; and Libya to the North. Below are certain considerations for the success of Chad’s diversification attempts.


  • Navigable rivers in Chad do not connect with the outside world except Lake Chad, which shares borders with Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon.




  • Chad’s market is inaccessible to the outside world, and Chad’s access to the external market is a problem.
  • Population distribution (sparsely populated) makes internal market inaccessible. The south-west has more people clustered because of proximity with Nigeria and Cameroon.



  • Chad’s road network is 42,000 km. 6,200 km are primary roads and only 996 km is asphalted. Also, they are in poor conditions.
  • 94% of Chad’s export is oil. Chad’s top 3 export destinations are the USA (61%), India (17%) and Japan (12%).
  • Chad’s economy depends on rainfall and the price of oil because of its dependence on agriculture and oil.


Chad wants to diversify its economy. It is working in collaboration with the Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). It is a positive step in a positive direction. However, there are 2 main themes to consider:


  • First, on human capital: The youth is the most vibrant sector of the population but security challenges preoccupy many of them. These challenges include violent extremism and terrorism. Their engagements are positive and negative contributions because they join the conflict or engage in peacebuilding. Hence, there is a need to develop a strategy to widen their social participation.
  • Second, on transportation: Market accessibility is poor due to geography and lack of road infrastructure. Hence, transportation should be at the top of the priority list. This will enable a better movement of people and goods.




Image: UNICEF / Tremeau (link)

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