Leading Edge speaks to Konimba Sidibé, Minister of Promotion of Investments and the Private Sector of Mali
Leading Edge (LE): What are the main measures Mali is taking in order to promote private investment?
Konimba Sidibé (KS): We are working to provide the country with a robust macroeconomic framework, and this is now considered reliable by all the parties involved in our economy, including our partners at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Inflation and public deficit are under control, and new measures are being implemented to improve public finance management.
Another important issue is the business environment. We have organisations dedicated to this, including L’Agence de Promotion des Investissements, a government agency that promotes investment. We also have an attractive investment code that we are currently revising, and we are working to reform the tax system and to improve access to financing — particularly for SMEs. We have also just drawn up a new law on public-private partnerships (PPP). The combination of all of these things is bringing new life to Mali, which has now reached a growth rate of 5-6%.
LE: How solid is the legal and taxation framework for investors?
KS: It’s important for investors to know that a series of appeal mechanisms exist, all the way up to the Court of Arbitration of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). On top of that, we are signing agreements with investors that provide them with the guarantees needed
for their businesses. As for taxation, while our investment code has undisputed appeal, reforms are underway to make tax declarations easier and to limit inspections. In terms of financing for companies, a guarantee fund allowing SMEs to access credit has been operational for the last year, and we are working on an investment bank project for SMEs, within the PPP framework. This will be a privately managed bank, in which the state holds shares. We are also working in the field of microfinance, which is a key sector for the economic growth of Africa. So we are encouraging reforms at all levels in order to improve the business climate and provide better support to companies.
We are working to provide the country with a robust macroeconomic framework, and this is now considered reliable by all the parties involved in our economy
LE: Another fundamental aspect of a country’s appeal is its level of infrastructure. What strengths and projects does Mali have in this area?
KS: It’s clear that transportation, energy and communications infrastructure are vital for companies to operate. Mali has made important achievements over the past years, and projects are underway to link and connect the different markets. Likewise, we are attempting to develop our energy potential, particularly in solar energy.
LE: What are the priority sectors for which Mali is seeking investors?
KS: The investment opportunities are considerable. Agriculture and agribusiness are key sectors of our economy. We have the largest agricultural potential in the sub-region, with more than 6.6 million hectares of arable land. We need foreign direct investment in order to make the transition
from family-based agriculture to industrialised agriculture. In the livestock sector, Mali is performing very well. We aim to create a productive livestock and meat industry, and through this, to generate added value. Mali is a major mango producer as well — again, this crop offers opportunities to transform a raw material. We are also looking to develop the upstream side of things; in other words, we want to start producing quality fertilisers and livestock fodder so that we can create new value chains. Energy is another key sector. A number of investors have shown their interest in the PPP framework and in sharing risks between the contractor and the state. Additionally, mining is very important. Mali is the third biggest gold producer in Africa, after South Africa and Ghana.