Economic Studies
Mali

Mali

Population 20.9 million
GDP per capita 918 US$
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2020 2021 2022 (e) 2023 (f) 2024 (f)
GDP growth (%) -1.2 3.0 3.7 4.0 4.0
Inflation (yearly average, %) 0.5 3.9 9.7 4.0 2.5
Budget balance (% GDP) -5.4 -4.9 -4.8 -5.0 -4.5
Current account balance (% GDP) -2.2 -7.7 -6.9 -6.5 -5.5
Public debt (% GDP) 46.9 50.4 51.7 51.5 52.5

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

STRENGTHS

  • Extensive agricultural (cotton) and mining (gold, bauxite, lithium) natural resources
  • Large expatriate remittances
  • Member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA)

WEAKNESSES

  • Deteriorating security environment due to the presence of jihadist groups in large parts of the country
  • Military junta in power following coups in 2020 and 2021, and renewed clashes with Tuaregs in the North
  • Economy vulnerable to climate hazards and fluctuating commodity prices
  • Widespread poverty
  • Geographically isolated
  • Dependence on international aid
  • Poor business environment (political instability, insecurity)
  • Lack of transparency in the gold industry

RISK ASSESSMENT

Growth driven by cotton and gold

In 2024, growth will continue, supported by agriculture and the mining sector. After a 2022-2023 season affected by insect pests, floods and the ECOWAS embargo, crop yields in 2023-2024 should improve, supported by government measures to promote cotton (fertilizer subsidies, increase in the purchase price to producers from 10 to 295 FCFA per kg). High gold prices and the production of the first spodumene concentrate from the Goulamina lithium mine, owned by Australia's Leo Lithium, China's Ganfeng Lithium and the Malian government, will boost mining output. Nevertheless, investment outside the extractive sector will continue to be held back by insecurity and political instability. This fragile climate will also limit rural development and private consumption (74% of GDP), despite the deceleration in inflation. Indeed, since 2023, food prices have been moderating thanks to a recovery in agricultural production and lower world prices. After raising its rate to 3.25% in September 2023, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) is unlikely to tighten its monetary policy any further, in line with the ECB.

External financing of deficits blocked by coup and military rule

The public deficit will decrease slightly thanks to the implementation of the new mining code, promulgated in August 2023. This will boost revenues by increasing the maximum participation of the State and local investors in mining projects from 20% to 35%, while abolishing tax exemptions granted to companies during exploitation. But fiscal consolidation, also based on administrative reforms and rationalization of spending, will remain limited, since the junta must increase its military and security spending following the withdrawal of Western forces. Moreover, spending will continue to be constrained by public workers' salaries, which account for 55% of tax revenues, and by the pursuit of the National Strategy for the Stabilization of Central Regions and its three-year action plan (2022-2024), budgeted for a total of 956 billion FCFA. The aim is to restore security, improve governance and the presence of the state, and promote economic recovery. The public deficit will continue to be financed by domestic borrowing, as well as by raising funds on the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) capital market. Indeed, security and political tensions will continue to block any extra-regional financing, including the renewal of the IMF's Extended Credit Facility, which expired in August 2022. Public debt, particularly domestic debt (30% of GDP), will continue its upward trajectory, and the country could face liquidity and solvency problems if issues continue to be under-subscribed or cancelled.

Despite high oil prices in 2024, the current account deficit is set to narrow thanks to rising exports linked to the opening of the Goulamina lithium mine, cotton production, live animal sales and high gold prices, which account for 80% of export revenues. The services deficit is set to continue, weighed down by logistics (mainly freight) and defense services (Wagner), while tourism revenues are unlikely to increase due to the climate of insecurity. Repatriation of mining profits by foreign companies will decrease slightly, thanks to the appropriation of a larger share of dividends by the State. The secondary income surplus will continue to be sustained by expatriate remittances, but official aid will be curbed by the deterioration of ties with Western countries. External borrowing will remain limited, as will non-minor FDI, so the deficit will be financed mainly by investment in the extractive sector.

 

Civilian transition is uncertain, while the security climate remains worrying

The military junta, which came to power after two coups d'état in 2020 and 2021, is led by Colonel Assimi Goïta, Mali's interim president. The civil transition to which the junta is committed, following initial sanctions by ECOWAS, has been compromised by the sine die postponement of legislative and presidential elections, originally scheduled for October 2023 and February 2024 respectively. The 97% approval of a new constitution in June 2023 strengthened the junta, granting amnesty to coup plotters and allowing some members to run for president. However, turnout for the referendum was low (38%) and voting was hampered in some northern and central locations. In addition, the government is weakened by persistent insecurity. In the North, the junta faces a double threat: on the one hand, the entrenchment of jihadist groups affiliated to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, and on the other, the resurgence of fighting with Tuaregs independentists in September 2023. In 2024, Mali will have to contain insecurity without Western help, since, at the request of the local authorities, French troops withdrew in October 2022 and those of the UN (MINUSMA) in December 2023. The Russian-led Wagner militia will continue to participate, while close military and economic relations with Russia will continue, with the two countries having signed an agreement in November 2023 to build a local gold refinery in Bamako. Following the postponement of the elections, Mali will remain suspended from ECOWAS, with which it will continue to maintain tense relations, especially as the country concluded a mutual defence pact with the military regimes of Niger and Burkina Faso in September 2023. The purpose of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) is to combat terrorist groups, but also to forge economic and military links, since the three countries have pledged mutual assistance in the event of an external attack.

 

Last updated: December 2023

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