Economic analysis
Mali

Mali

Population 19.7 million
GDP per capita 890 US$
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2019 2020 2021 (e) 2022 (f)
GDP growth (%) 4.8 -1.6 4.0 5.0
Inflation (yearly average, %) -2.9 0.5 3.0 2.0
Budget balance (% GDP)* -1.7 -5.4 -5.5 -4.5
Current account balance (% GDP)** -7.5 -0.2 -5.3 -5.0
Public debt (% GDP) 40.6 47.4 50.8 50.0

(e): Estimate (f): Forecast *Including grants **Including official transfers

STRENGTHS

  • Substantial natural resources: agriculture (tobacco, cotton) and mining (gold, bauxite, iron)
  • International assistance
  • Member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)

WEAKNESSES

  • Economy vulnerable to weather and commodity price fluctuations
  • Extreme poverty
  • Geographically isolated
  • Poor security situation
  • Dependent on international aid
  • Poor business environment

RISK ASSESSMENT

Sustained growth in 2022

After a recovery in growth in 2021, increased cotton exports and a strong gold sector will support further acceleration in 2022. The introduction of a fertiliser subsidy and higher prices in 2021 boosted cotton production (15% of GDP). Although the sector's prospects will remain subject to climatic hazards, this augurs well for a good 2021/2022 agricultural season, which would enable Mali to regain its position as Africa's leading cotton producer in 2022. More generally, the agricultural sector (40% of GDP) will be supported by international financing, including the agreement on a loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which was ratified in 2021. With more than 60% of employment linked to the sector (15% to cotton), the recovery of agriculture will support household consumption (64% of GDP). Household purchasing power could also benefit from the low inflation rate, thanks to the CFA franc’s euro peg. Consumption should allow the services sector, which was still recovering in 2021, to continue to pick up in 2022. However, this recovery could be threatened by political instability. Uncertainty may also deter international financing and private investment, dampening the contribution of gross fixed capital formation, which should nevertheless be positive. Public investment in infrastructure (especially roads and airports) is expected to increase thanks to cotton and gold revenues. Critically, investment in mining (7% of GDP) is set to continue, as illustrated by the plans by African Gold Group, a Canadian company, to start production at the Kobada mine. The commissioning of this project, and of those led by Barrick Gold and Cora Gold, should boost gold production and exports, supporting the contribution of foreign trade to growth.

 

Twin deficits narrow but persist

The budget deficit should continue to narrow in 2022 on increased revenues, but will remain above the WAEMU community criterion (3% of GDP). Revenues from gold mining and cotton production, which account for 25% and 12% of government revenues respectively, will increase in line with economic growth. Capital spending, supporting major infrastructure projects, such as a fourth bridge over the Niger River (in Bamako), is expected to temper the reduction in government spending. The public debt, two-thirds of which is external, much of it concessional, will continue to rely on international lenders (World Bank and African Development Bank). The three-year ECF programme, worth a total USD 192 million, granted by the IMF in February 2021, should support financing needs. However, political instability could threaten access to financing.

 

The current account deficit is expected to narrow slightly. This will be mainly due to an improvement in the trade deficit in 2022 on higher export earnings from gold (two-thirds of the total) and cotton. The import bill will still be large, due to the recovery of domestic demand and high energy prices. The reduction in the current account deficit will be mostly constrained by the services account, which will reflect the impact of the pickup in demand for project-related services and freight transport. The primary income balance will also be in deficit due to repatriation of corporate profits. The secondary income balance will continue to show a sizeable surplus thanks to current international cooperation and expatriate remittances (6% of GDP). Loans from multilateral organisations, which are necessary to finance the deficit, could be constrained, as could FDI (excluding minerals), by the country's political situation.

 

Political instability and increased security risk

While Mali has faced major political and security challenges dating back to 2012, instability has increased since Colonel Assimi Goïta forced the unpopular former president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, to resign in August 2020. In May 2021, Colonel Goïta became transitional president after a second coup, in which he forced his predecessor, Bah N'Daw, and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane to resign. The international community condemned this latest political upheaval, with ECOWAS and the African Union suspending Mali and calling for elections to be held by February 2022. Malian authorities notified ECOWAS that they would not be able to hold elections in time and suggested a delay of up to five years. This announcement led to the adoption of economic sanctions by ECOWAS and UEMOA on January 9, 2022, including a trade and financial embargo, and border closures. ECOWAS has already briefly imposed these sanctions after the coup in 2020, leading the junta to return to civilian rule. , and neighboring countries (Guinea, Mauritania, Algeria, and Niger) have expressed some concerns about implementing the sanctions. Russia and China condemned the new sanctions; whereas Western countries approved them, while neighboring countries outside ECOWAS have expressed some concerns about their implementation. This dispute could also affect cooperation within the G5 Sahel, since its members (with the exception of Mauritania) are also part of the West African organization. In this context, but also given the reduction in Western military support, attacks by Islamist militant groups will pose an increasing threat.

 

Last updated: February 2022

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