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 security.
Extreme poverty increased rapidly as a result of the dual impact of the security crisis and the pandemic, climbing to a rate of 15.9% in 2021. Extreme poverty increased further to 19.1% in 2022, driven by the erosion of the purchasing power of the most vulnerable, owing to soaring consumer prices and weak economic growth. 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 northern regions 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 institutional breakdown that occurred on August 18, 2020, a government and a National Transition Council serving as the National Assembly were installed pending the organization of democratic elections. Colonel Assimi Goïta was proclaimed Head of State on May 28, 2021 by the Constitutional Court.
At its Ordinary Summit held on July 3, 2022, in Accra, ECOWAS Heads of State decided to lift the financial and economic sanctions imposed on Mali and accepted the proposed calendar by the transition government for a return to civilian rule in March 2024. The Summit however, banned the transition authorities from participating in future elections and maintained individual sanctions against certain members of the regime.
However, on September 25, 2023, the government cited technical reasons for postponing the presidential election. It also announced that the presidential election remained the only priority. Only the constitutional referendum was held on June 18, 2023. The new constitution was approved by 97% and promulgated by the President of the Transition.
After ten years of existence, the Security Council decided, at the request of the Malian government, to terminate MINUSMA's mandate with effect from June 30, 2023, requesting it to begin immediately the cessation of its operations and the transfer of its tasks, as well as the reduction and withdrawal of its personnel, to complete the process by December 31, 2023.
The Malian economy rebounded slightly in 2021, with GDP growth estimated at 3.1%, driven by recovery in the key agriculture and services sectors. The economy showed signs of resilience, with GDP growth estimated at 3.7% in 2022, despite the combined effects of ECOWAS sanctions and the consequences of the war in Ukraine, reflecting the rebound in cereal production and the resilience of the mining sector.
The improvement in the terms of trade that had prevailed since 2019, buoyed by the upward trend in international gold prices, waned in 2022 owing to the acceleration in oil prices. This was, however, mitigated by the effects of ECOWAS sanctions on import flows, leading to a decline in the current account deficit to 7% of GDP, while the decline in external financial flows worsened in 2022.
Budget expenditure, which had been accelerating since 2020 in response to the pandemic and to contain the socio-economic crisis, continued to rise in 2022, driven in particular by the wage bill and security spending. Tax revenues, on the other hand, fell in 2022 due to fiscal spending to contain inflation and the effects of ECOWAS sanctions on trade flows, leading to a stabilization of the fiscal deficit at 4.8% of GDP.
In the short term, the priorities are to organize the elections in accordance with the timetable agreed with ECOWAS for a return to democratic governance, while pursuing reforms to improve public expenditure management and tax administration performance.
(1) World Bank data - World Development Indicators 2018
Last Updated: Sep 29, 2023