Building capacity to help Africa trade better




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Key Facts

  • Capital: Bamako
  • Region: West Africa
  • Official languages: French
  • Independence Day: September 22, 1960
  • Area: 1,240,000 sq km
  • Population (2018): 19.1 million
  • REC membership: CEN-SAD, ECOWAS
  • WTO membership: May 31, 1995
  • GDP (2018): US$ 17.163 billion
  • GNI per capita (2018): US$ 840
  • Currency: CFA franc

Economic overview

Despite the security crisis, Mali’s economy has remained resilient. In 2019, the country recorded 5% real GDP growth (driven by good gold and cotton production), a budget deficit of 3.1% of GDP, and 0.4% inflation. Public debt was 35.5% of GDP at the end of 2018.

However, the economy remains under-industrialized, and the manufacturing industry struggles to develop. This leads to an enormous need for imports and to a current account in deficit (5.4% of GDP in 2019). On the demand side, investment is particularly low, at 9.5% of GDP for the private sector and 8.7% for the public sector.

Tax revenue is weak (14.3% of GDP), below the ECOWAS standard of 20%. Analysis of public debt sustainability in May 2018 indicated that the risk of Mali’s debt overhang was moderate. Mali’s debt policy, with the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility, is prudent. But the maturity of domestic debt, with 59% of it falling due over 2019–21, is of great concern.

Improving the political and security situation should allow for real GDP growth of 4.9% in 2020 and 2021. In March 2019, Mali adopted a National Strategic Framework for Economic Revitalization and Sustainable Development 2019-23 and is working to implement the Plan for Public Finance Management Reform 2017–21.

The government passed the National Accord Law and launched the Inclusive National Dialogue, aimed at calming the social climate and finding solutions to the current crisis. For security, progress has been made thanks to implementing the peace accord through the accelerated disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program and operationalizing the interim authorities in the north. The government has also established an integrated security plan for Central Mali and a political framework for managing the crisis.

The creation of the African Free Trade Zone and the ECOWAS single currency (eco) zone should strengthen Mali’s integration into the region. To promote the private sector, the government launched the 5.5 billion CFA franc Economic Infrastructure Program aiming to create 8,700 kilometers of roads and six bridges by 2023.

The economy depends heavily on gold and cotton (86% of exports), and value chains are poorly developed (3% of cotton is processed). With little diversification, the economy depends on the prices of raw materials on international markets. The accumulation of payment arrears for domestic debt presents a risk of stalling economic activity and the private sector.

The country faces critical infrastructure deficits: only 3% of the classified road network is blacktopped and in good order; the electricity gap is 140MW, and 53% of the population lacks access to electricity. In addition, only 75% of children are in primary education, and 41% in secondary education while 75% of the population lacks access to health services.

Last updated: April 2020


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