Mali, a vast Sahelian country, has a low-income economy that is undiversified and vulnerable to commodity fluctuations. Its rapid population growth (a fertility rate of 5.88 children per woman in 20181) and climate change pose a threat to agriculture and food insecurity.
The extreme poverty rate in 2019 was 42.3%, as a result of outstanding agricultural output since 2014. The 2020 health, security, social, and political crises led to a 5% increase in poverty. Some 90% of the country’s poverty is concentrated in the densely populated rural areas of the south.
Mali has been experiencing instability and conflict since the 2012 military coup and the occupation of the north by armed groups. The operations of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) date back to July 2014.
In the aftermath of the military coup of August 18, 2020, a transition government and a National Transition Council serving as the National Assembly were installed pending the organization of democratic elections.
Colonel Assimi Goïta, the leader of the coup, was declared Head of State on May 28, 2021 by the Constitutional Court, following some 10 days of negotiations for the formation of a government and the arrest of the transitional president, Bah N’Daw, and the prime minister, Moctar Ouane, in the wake of another coup on May 24, 2021.
At a summit held on May 30, 2021, the Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Mali’s membership without imposing sanctions and subsequently demanded that elections be held in February 2022. However, on January 9, 2022, as there was no timetable in place for organizing these elections, ECOWAS countries imposed economic and financial sanctions and closed their borders with Mali. ECOWAS mediation efforts are continuing in a bid to reach consensus on the duration of the transition and the organization of the elections.
On February 21, 2022, the National Transition Council adopted a revised charter promulgated by the Transitional President on February 26. The position of Vice-President that existed in the old charter has been abolished and a transition period of between six months and five years has been established, in accordance with the recommendations of the National Conference on Reconciliation (ANR) held in December 2021.
The combined effects of the pandemic, poor agricultural performance, and the sociopolitical crisis pushed the Malian economy into a recession in 2020. Real GDP rebounded slightly in 2021, with growth estimated at 3.1%, driven by the recovery in the key sectors of agriculture and services.
Improvements in the terms of trade during the 2019-2020 period, driven by a surge in gold prices on the international market, slowed in 2021. This deceleration, coupled with the recovery in import demand, led to an increase in the current account deficit despite the decline in external flows.
Budget expenditure, which had been increased in 2020 to respond to the pandemic and contain the socioeconomic crisis, continued to rise, driven in particular by the wage bill and security spending. The recovery observed in 2021 also resulted in an increase in tax revenues, helping to stabilize the fiscal deficit at 5.5% of GDP.
In the short term, the priorities are to resume constructive dialogue with ECOWAS on lifting sanctions while pursuing reforms to improve the performance of the tax administration.
(1) World Bank data – World Development Indicators 2018
Last Updated: Apr 14, 2022