The economy is weighted towards the agricultural sector (39% of GDP and the major employer) and mining (gold accounts for 40% of total export earnings). Growth and earnings capacity therefore depend to a high degree on climatic conditions (particularly rainfall levels) and internationallydetermined commodity prices (cotton, as well as gold). However, the economy is overshadowed by domestic politics and regional risks. Recent events (including insurrection and armed conflict in the north) raise the spectre of the state as now constituted not being in existence in the future.
GDP growth is largely dependent on stability and security issues
Annual average real GDP growth in the ten-year period up to end-2014 was +4%, a rate relatively consistent with the average for Sub-Saharan Africa over that period. However, the economy was adversely affected by security issues in 2012-13 when most activities, including industrial output and agricultural production, were disrupted because of a significant downward spiral in security.
Risks remain high. However, the near-term economic prospects have improved following the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2013. EH expects GDP will increase by +4.5% in 2015 and around +5% in 2016 and 2017 but this represents a rebound from the conflict years of 2011-13 and much depends on securing stability in the north and east of the country and on the outlook for global commodity prices, particularly cotton and gold.
Membership of the CFA franc bloc provides some financial security
Mali is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU) and other regional organisations. Membership of the CFA franc zone provides low exchange rate and transfer risk. Mali also has relatively good relations with donor countries, in particular with the EU and institutions such as the UN, IMF and World Bank. Indeed, the return of a degree of domestic political stability helped unlock access to aid pledges in May 2013 of USD3.25bn. Aid disbursements are subject to continuation of relative stability.
The business environment is weak
Infrastructure is generally weak and is a major impediment to commercial transactions outside the main urban centres, and thereby to stronger overall economic growth. In the World Bank’s Doing Business 2016 survey Mali ranks 143 out of 189 countries assessed, below Tanzania and Malawi.