Mali is a sparsely populated, predominantly desert country with a highly undiversified economy. It is vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations and to the consequences of climate change, which, in addition to having one of the highest population growth rates in the world, have fueled food insecurity, poverty and instability in the country. Delivery of services to the large, sparsely populated territory poses severe challenges in these conditions, and has a negative impact on geographic equity and social cohesion. Mali has a population of 15 million, 10% of which are living in the three northern regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, areas that represent two-thirds of the entire country. These northern regions contributed 9.5% of the country’s GDP prior to the 2012 military coup d’état.
On January 8th 2015, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita reshuffled his third government. Prime Minister Moussa Mara resigned and Modibo Keita was appointed Prime Minister on January 9th. An experienced politician who held his first ministerial post in 1982, Modibo Keita was former prime minister under President Alpha Oumar Konaré (from March to June 2002), and more recently was the High Representative of President Keïta for the Inter-Malian inclusive dialogue which began in Algiers in July 2014.
Prime Minister Keita formed a new cabinet of 29 ministers, against the 31 of the Mara’s government. Eight ministers left the government, including those directly linked to the controversial military equipment procurement and the off-budget purchase of the presidential aircraft.
Mali's government signed a preliminary peace proposal on March 1st 2015 that seeks to end the fighting with northern separatists. Tuareg-led rebels have requested more time and have yet to sign the peace proposal. The United Nations brokered deal aims to tackle decades of uprisings in northern Mali, where Western and regional powers worry that rebel groups could return.
Recent fighting on the ground and differences over the political status of the desert region that the rebels call Azawad, have complicated efforts to broker a lasting deal. The Algiers accord has proposed more devolved powers for the north, a regional security force, and a special development plan. However it has left open the question of Azawad's political identity.
A masked gunman sprayed bullets in a restaurant popular amongst foreigners in Mali's capital in early March, killing five people including three Malians, a French national, and a Belgian national. Al Mourabitoun, or The Sentinels, a northern Mali jihadist group allied with al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Since 2011, Mali’s economic growth has undergone several exogenous shocks. Its steady state economic growth rate is around 5% and is driven by a rapid growth in labor supply, urbanization (along with informal sector development), extensive agriculture and land use, public investment and gold mining activities.
Economic activity was severely affected by low rainfall in 2011 and 2013, however, 2014 registered a return to normalcy. Instable security and political conditions make up a second set of factors which has recently generated ample domestic output fluctuations. Political turmoil reached its peak in 2012 with a coup d’état, leading to a sharp drop in GDP growth as a result of violence, tourist disaffection, and a collapse of international aid. Mitigation of security tensions and a restoration of democratic order in 2013 allowed a rebound in aid. Likewise, commitments made at the Brussels donor conference have helped the country recover from the crisis by fueling public investment. Trade variations, which have been positive over the past few years due to higher prices of gold from 2011 to 2013 and lower prices of oil in 2014, have also favored growth. While the GDP growth rate slumped from 2.7% in 2011 to 0.0% in 2012, it has since then resumed an upward trend of 1.7% in 2013 with an acceleration of 5.8% in 2014.
The macroeconomic outlook appears positive. Favorable external factors such as a low West African franc and declining oil, are expected to be growth conducive. After peaking at 5.8% in 2015, GDP growth should return to a steady state of 5.2% in 2017. The main drivers of domestic activity over the next three years will be the agricultural and tertiary sectors. Mali will continue to be exposed to security and climatic shocks, with limited ability to mitigate them. The government will have to improve resource mobilization accordingly in order to foster public investments and allow for stabilization buffers.
Since independence in 1960, Mali has experienced a dramatic transformation of its social landscape, confronting a number of key political, social and environmental challenges. While Mali experienced an overall drop in national poverty (2001-2010), regional differences persist. According to national data, poverty declined from 55.6% in 2001 to 43.6% in 2010, before rebounding to 45% in 2013. Prior to the 2012 political and economic crisis, Mali was ranked 175th on the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), however in just one year, the country dropped seven places on the HDI, placing it among the five poorest countries in the world.
Poverty incidence is high and most poor live in rural areas. In 2010, more than half the population (51%) lived below the poverty line of $1.25 a day. Since then, drought and conflict have increased the incidence of poverty. Poverty is much lower in urban areas (14%) with 90% of all poor living in rural areas concentrated in the south where population density is highest. Given the lack of reliable estimates, there is a dire need to improve welfare measurements and data collection to better understand the livelihoods of poor households.
Last Updated: Apr 01, 2015