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)
GDP growth (%) -1.2 3.0 2.5 4.0
Inflation (yearly average, %) 0.5 3.0 9.7 4.0
Budget balance (% GDP) -5.4 -5.5 -4.5 -2.8
Current account balance (% GDP) -0.2 -5.3 -5.0 -7.0
Public debt (% GDP) 47.4 51.8 55.0 54.0

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

STRENGTHS

  • Important natural resources in agriculture (cotton) and mining (gold, bauxite, iron)
  • International assistance
  • Expatriate remittances (5.7% of GDP in 2022)
  • Member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)

WEAKNESSES

  • Economy vulnerable to climatic hazards and commodity price fluctuations
  • Widespread poverty
  • Geographical isolation
  • Security situation worsened by the presence of jihadist groups in a large part of the country
  • Dependence on international aid
  • Poor business environment (political instability, insecurity)
  • Lack of transparency in the gold industry

RISK ASSESSMENT

Growth to pick up in 2023

Growth in the Malian economy slowed in 2022 as a result of the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS and WAEMU between 9 January and 3 July 2022. The Malian economy was confronted, in particular, with an embargo on trade with other ECOWAS countries for all products other than those of primary necessity. Some 42% of Malian imports come from West African countries. The outlook for 2023 is nevertheless favourable, with growth estimated at 5%. The revival of economic activity is due to the lifting of sanctions, but also to the growing mobilisation of domestic resources, notably via a plan to make electricity available to all the country, and also agricultural investment, with the support of the state, farmers and foreign financial partners. This second component represents 17% of the government's planned budgetary expenditure in 2023. This would allow Mali to maintain its position as the No.1 cotton producer in Africa with a 25.5% increase in production, but also a 5.5% increase in cereal production. In addition, gold production would grow by 5.6%, as a result of high global gold prices. However, even if inflation is expected to ease in line with international prices and the tightening of monetary conditions by the Central Bank of West African States, following in the footsteps of the European Central Bank, durably high energy prices are likely to act as a brake on growth, especially as it has repercussions on the price of fertilisers and transport, which are very important to the agricultural sector.

 

Fiscal consolidation, a priority for the Malian state

In 2022, Mali's budget deficit is expected to have stood slightly above 3%, the limit imposed by UEOMA. Nevertheless, the absence of budgetary drift, despite the Covid-19 health crisis and inflationary pressures, bears witness to prudent fiscal policy. For 2023, the Malian government has anticipated and has set a budget deficit target, essentially through tax reforms and cost cuts. Fiscal consolidation is a necessary condition for the renewal of the IMF's Extended Credit Facility, which expired in August 2022. Public debt, resulting mainly from investments in infrastructure and agricultural development plans, is expected to stabilise, but will remain high. It is possible that domestic debt could exceed external debt, which could generate a crowding-out effect that would hamper access to credit for domestic firms. Combined with high political instability and uncertainty over energy prices, the incentive to invest and do business will be blunted.

The current account deficit is likely to narrow slightly in line with the trade balance. The less accommodating economic policy will encourage households to moderate their consumption, and thus imports, while energy prices may ease. In addition, the increase in income linked to the sale of gold and cotton will also play a favourable role. The primary income balance will remain in deficit due to the repatriation of the profits of foreign extractive companies (which will probably increase), contrary to the secondary income balance, which will remain positive thanks to international cooperation and remittances from expatriates, which represented 5.7% of GDP in 2022.

 

Political instability and insecurity as a sword of Damocles

Domestic political instability and insecurity, both within the country and at regional level, are both a threat and a brake on the economy. Economic activity will be subject to the holding of elections within two years of 26 March 2022, as promised by the head of the military junta, Colonel Assimi Goïta. If he fails to honour his pledge, fresh sanctions can be expected from ECOWAS and the IMF of the Extended Credit Facility is likely to hold off from granting its Extended Credit Facility. This should encourage the junta to work towards easing tensions in the country. In addition, a draft new constitution is expected to be put to a referendum in March 2023. The new constitution is expected to give more powers to the President. The junta has also passed an electoral law that allows the military to stand for election provided they have submitted their resignations four months previously.

The Islamist terrorist threat remains prevalent and is justification for the authorities to endorse the transitional military government. The treatment chosen by the latter is not only affecting relations with the four remaining G5 Sahel countries in the wake of Mali's withdrawal, but also with other international partners. As a consequence, the relationship with the local UN mission, MINUSMA is tumultuous. Last, the French military operation Barkhane came to an end with, in the backdrop, the arrival of paramilitary fighters from the Russian private military group Wagner.

 

Last updated: April 2023

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