Country Overview

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.

Political Context

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.

Economic Overview

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.

Social Context

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

World Bank Group Engagement in Mali

The two-year World Bank Group Interim Strategy Note (ISN) for 2014-2015 proposes a selective program in support of post-conflict recovery and long-term development objectives. This ISN program aims to both rapidly provide support to meet the needs of populations across the country and initiate new activities to better address long-term governance challenges.

The 2015 disbursement pipeline is on track, with the first $50 million Development Policy Operation in a new series delivered in November. The national portfolio includes 15 operations for $921 million in International Development Association (IDA) and trust fund commitments, of which $330 million was approved in 2014. The current regional portfolio includes seven operations.  The regional pipeline includes the Sahel programs – Women’s empowerment and Demographics, Controlling Diseases, Sahel Pastoralism Support and Sahel Disaster Resilience.

A breakdown of the portfolio by sector is as follows: Energy 25%; Transport 18%; Rural Development 25%; Public Sector Development 17%; Human Development 4%; Environment 7%, and Private Sector Development 4%.

Working Towards a New Country Partnership Framework

The World Bank Group (WBG) has launched the preparation process for its new partnership strategy with Mali. The process involves two phases: (i) the Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) which will identify the country’s key development constraints and priorities; and (ii) the elaboration of the Country Partnership Framework (CPF) which will determine the World Bank Group's specific engagement with Mali.

From February 9 to 11, 2015, the World Bank Group held public consultations to help identify the key challenges and opportunities for accelerating progress towards eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity in Mali. A three-day meeting took place in Bamako with different key stakeholders, including the government, the parliament, civil society, the private sector, development partners, etc. Other stakeholder meetings were organized with youth to better understand the development constraints and challenges that the population faces.

The SCD team has received important contributions from these stakeholder consultations and is now analyzing them. The SCD decision meeting with the Regional Operations Committee (ROC) was held on February 2015, however due to a recent cabinet change, the CPF is planned for delivery in early 2016.

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

International Finance Corporation (IFC) has aggregate commitments of $40.2 million to six clients, of which $14.1 million is undisbursed. 

Last Updated: Apr 01, 2015

The World Bank Group has contributed to Mali’s development performance in the following sectors:

Agriculture and Livestock

Thanks to World Bank Group projects such as the Agriculture Competitiveness and Diversification Project, Mali has improved productivity of targeted horticultural/livestock products. Below are some project results:

  • The volume and value of the products marketed for the three main value chains (mango, shallot /onion and potato) have almost achieved the project’s expected results (respectively 104%, 93%, 95%; and 107, 90%, 96%)
  • Access to financing for farmers and other private economic operators in the selected supply chains increased to 782 million francs CFAF out of 880 million planned
  • Some 125 medium-sized agribusiness investors have benefitted from credit facilitation to acquire innovative technologies in micro-irrigation, storage, or post-harvest processing


World Bank efforts have resulted in the following:

  • Periodic maintenance works on about 339 km of rural roads in the Kayes, Koulikoro and Sikasso regions have been completed
  • Periodic maintenance on about 446 km of rural roads in the Mopti, Koulikoro and Sikasso regions began in March 2014


Last Updated: Apr 01, 2015

In January 2013, the World Bank Group took over as chair of the existing donor coordination mechanism, the Troika, and played a key role in supporting government leadership during the post-conflict reconstruction period. Since January 2015, France replaced the World Bank.

In July 2014, the World Bank Group hosted a preparatory workshop for Mali's joint country partnership strategy (SCAP) process, part of the donor coordination mechanism chaired by the World Bank Group until the end of 2014, to focus on the methodology for joint programming and agree the key elements of a shared analysis of the country context. The SCAP will be the main framework for government - partner accountability from 2015, building on the Brussels Donors’ Conference, which winds down at the end of 2014.

In Mali, donors are working together in 10 thematic groups: (1) agriculture and rural economy; (2) infrastructure development; (3) decentralization and institutional development; (4) macroeconomic management; (5) justice; (6) democratic process and civil society; (7) private sector development and microfinance; (8) education; (9) health; and (10) drinking water and sanitation.


Last Updated: Apr 01, 2015


Mali: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments