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Foreign Direct Investment

FDI flows to Mali are weak and unstable due to the country’s fragile political and security situation. According to UNCTAD's 2022 World Investment Report, FDI inflows to Mali increased by 22.9% year-on-year in 2021, reaching USD 660 million, above the three-year average recorded before the pandemic (USD 584 million in 2017-19). In the same year, the total stock of FDI was estimated at USD 6.4 billion, representing around 33.4% of the country’s GDP. Most foreign direct investments are oriented towards mining (gold exploitation), oil extraction, the textile industry, financial intermediation, telecommunication and infrastructure. According to data from UNCTAD, the top investors in Mali are France, China, and the United States. Other significant investors include Canada, India, and South Africa.

FDI in Mali has been relatively low compared to other African countries, due to factors such as political instability, security concerns, and an underdeveloped business environment. However, the Malian government has been taking steps to improve the investment climate. The country benefits from substantial natural resources such as gold, bauxite and iron, and is Africa’s main cotton supplier. In general, the law treats foreign and domestic investment equally, but state-owned enterprises distort the economy and limits on ownership in the mining and media sector persist (90% foreign ownership limit in the mining sector, 50% in media). In recent years, the government of Mali has put in place FDI promotion policies aimed at encouraging competitiveness and private sector participation in almost all sectors, with a specific focus on the following ones: agribusiness, fishing and fish processing, livestock and forestry, mining and metallurgical industries, water and energy, tourism and hospitality industries, communications, housing development, transportation, human and animal health, vocational and technical training, and cultural promotion. Furthermore, foreign companies can negotiate ad hoc incentives on a case-by-case basis. However, the judicial system is inefficient and prone to corruption. State authority in parts of the North is still tenuous, and corruption remains a problem throughout the government, public procurement, and both public and private contracting, where demands for bribes are frequently reported (Mali ranked 137th out of 180 countries in Transparency International's 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index). Labour regulations, although not fully enforced, are relatively rigid. Increased political instability and the adoption of economic sanctions by ECOWAS and UEMOA in 2022 deteriorated the business climate. Mali ranked 122nd out of 176 countries in the 2023 Index of Economic Freedom.

Foreign Direct Investment 202020212022
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 537640253
FDI Stock (million USD) 6,2576,3886,272
Number of Greenfield Investments* 431
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 479449225

Source: UNCTAD - Latest available data.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Mali Sub-Saharan Africa United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 7.0 5.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 1.0 3.5 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 5.0 5.5 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.