Mali and France enjoy close relations of confidence, not only for historical and cultural reasons but also because of the large Malian diaspora in France.
Political relations have intensified in recent years, and there have been numerous bilateral visits since 2013.
On 2 February 2013, President François Hollande and the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, travelled to Mali (Sévaré, Bamako and Timbuktu). Both of them also attended President Keïta’s inauguration ceremony on 19 September 2013 in Bamako.
The President of the Republic of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, visited France from 20 to 22 October 2015. He has visited France on several other occasions since taking office: 29 September-1 October 2013; 2-8 December 2013 for the Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa; 13-16 August 2014 for the ceremonies for the 70ᵗʰ anniversary of the landings in Provence; 11 January 2015 for the Republican march in Paris; 10 May 2015 for the inauguration of the ACTe Memorial in Guadeloupe; 30 November-1 December 2015 for COP21; and twice in 2016, including 20 April when he attended the ceremony in honour of three French soldiers killed in Mali, held at the Hôtel des Invalides.
The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, visited Bamako on 4 and 5 April and 28 May 2013. He also received Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly in Paris on 7 February 2014 and his counterpart, Abdoulaye Diop, on 31 July 2014 and 9 March 2015. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Jean-Marc Ayrault, made a joint visit to Mali with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on 1 and 2 May 2016.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls visited Mali on 18 and 19 February 2016.
Mali will be hosting the next Africa-France Summit, in January 2017.
In 2015, France had a trade surplus of €323 million with Mali. Our exports to Mali total €334.5 million and consist mainly of equipment (27%), pharmaceuticals (22%), farming and agrifood products (21%) and transport equipment (15%). Mali has retained its position as a major sub-regional market for France, despite its geographical isolation and lack of hydrocarbon resources. France remains Mali’s main supplier and Malian exports to France, 70% of which are farming and agrifood products, total €11.1 million.
Our exports should continue to benefit from the prospects of major contracts, which have soared from an average of €20-30 million per year to €160 million in 2014.
Foreign direct investments (FDI) and French presence
During the early 2000s, Mali enjoyed a major influx of FDI, which increased more than twenty-fold, making it the third-largest recipient country in the sub-region, with a stock of $3.4 billion (31% of GDP) in 2013, after Côte d’Ivoire ($8.2 billion) and Niger ($4.9 billion), and ahead of Senegal ($2.7 billion).
This influx was largely due to the increase in South African, Australian and Canadian investment projects in the highly capital-intensive mining sector. The privatization of the telecom company SOTELMA also led to an influx of FDI in 2009.
Other sectors are also popular with foreign investors: Moroccan investors represent one third of the banking sector, while Chinese investors are attracted to the public works and civil engineering sector and commerce. However, the manufacturing and farming industries, which are crucial for growth and development, attract very little investment.
The 2012 crisis briefly interrupted this trend. FDI flows dropped by 28% in 2012, mainly in the telecom and mining sectors, before rising again during 2013 (+3% to $410 million) to reach average pre-crisis levels (between 3.5% and 4% of GDP).
The business environment remains difficult. Mali has a modest position in the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking (143ʳᵈ out of 189, third out of the WAEMU countries behind Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso). Investment is greatly hindered by tax and land tenure insecurity and weak infrastructure, including the electricity grid. The security situation weighs on all investment projects, especially in the north of the country.
In 2013, French investment stock totalled €73 million and flows rose to €3.7 million, after falling in 2012. France is no longer Mali’s largest foreign investor, due to the rise in investments by the countries mentioned above. 125 French-owned subsidiaries and companies have been registered, employing around 4,000 people. They are mostly in the following sectors: mobile telephony (Orange), fuel distribution (Total), drinks (Castel), electrical equipment and public works and civil engineering equipment (Delmas group), public works and civil engineering (Razel), and banking (BNP Paribas and Banques Populaires).
The Brussels Conference on 15 May 2013, “Together for a new Mali”, marked the mobilization of Mali’s partners in support of its recovery. The pledges made at this event totalled €3.28 billion for 2013-2014.
As Mali’s largest bilateral donor, France pledged to spend €308 million on development projects in the country over the period 2013-2014, mainly in the fields of budget support, support for the private sector, healthcare and local development. The French President has announced more than €360 million of bilateral support for the period 2015-2017, of which almost €80 million is destined for the northern regions.
In addition to this bilateral assistance, France makes a major contribution to multilateral assistance, including the European Development Fund (EDF), the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Under the 11ᵗʰ EDF, the European Union plans to allocate €615 million to Mali over the period 2014-2020. France provides 17.5% of the financing for this fund. The European Union and its Member States combine their programming in a European joint programming document, which states that France plans to contribute €472 million to Mali over the period 2014-2018.
Mali is eligible for the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, aimed at tackling the root causes of irregular migration and displacement, which was created during the Valetta Summit in November 2015. This fund has €1.8 billion of European funding, of which a billion is dedicated to the Sahel and Lake Chad regions.
Decentralized cooperation is very active. 68 French local governments are working in Mali with 190 Malian partner communities, with €4 million of project funding.
In terms of military cooperation, France is involved in the European training and advice mission for Malian armed forces, EUTM Mali, and the European training and advice mission for internal security forces, EUCAP Sahel Mali. At bilateral level, France provides Mali with military cooperators; it initiated and led the creation of the Peacekeeping School (École de maintien de la paix, EMP) in Bamako; and it supports the Military Administration School (École militaire d’administration, EMA) in Koulikoro. French security and defence cooperation programmes in Mali totalled €4.15 million in 2015.
France has set up a website detailing all of its development assistance projects in Mali. This website was initially set up for Mali, before being extended to other French priority countries for assistance.
Updated: 23 September 2016