The coronavirus pandemic has affected Mali relatively little. Therefore, even the economic statistics of this year’s first quarter are hardly affected by this crisis. Malian economic activity generally fluctuates mainly with the rise and fall of the price of gold and prices of agricultural commodities. In the export of goods, the already mentioned gold dominates with 72% and cotton with 12%.
Mali has also been trying to develop iron ore mining to diversify its gold-linked foreign currency income, but the pace of the sector is again largely dependent on favorable world prices.
The government promised affected businesses and households, in response to the crisis caused mainly by various irregular lockdowns and occasional reductions in services, to forgive some energy payments, contribute to wages or allow, for example, the postponement of tax payments. Just like before the crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic, Mali is borrowing from the World and African Banks.
High subsidies from the European Union and other international partners flow into the country. The government promises not to raise taxes. In the case of the Republic of Mali, it is also necessary to mention the ongoing war conflict that has lasted since 2012, which is being responded to by a large-scale military operation, associated with the massive deployment of international forces under the banner of the United Nations and other foreign military forces, including Czech ones.
Post-covid-19 opportunities for foreign exporters
Transport industry and infrastructure
Quality transport infrastructure is lacking in Mali. In principle, it can be said that any infrastructure is only associated with larger cities. Roads, if they exist, are in very poor condition and mostly impassable during the rainy season. There is no railway network, although it would have a high added value in terms of transporting mainly material and food from the surrounding countries that have seaports.
However, in the recent past, the railway network in Mali functioned and its remains are still visible. Therefore, there is an opportunity to conduct a survey and the possible involvement of the Czech Republic in its restoration. Mali’s river transport is also an area for the realization of a business plan, as practically the only “land” mode of transport connects the south of the country with the dangerous north.
The Czech Republic also has rich experience in river transport and the technologies associated with it. Regarding air transport, in the 1960s, Czechoslovakia played a crucial role in building the Air Mali airline in the country, which connected the main centers of the Malian regions.
After some time, France replaced communist Czechoslovakia in this area and Air Mali gradually disappeared. Nowadays, the long-unfilled space has been partially filled by the airline Sky Mali and several other smaller, mostly foreign companies. Air transport, construction and operation of airports and other related activities could therefore also be interesting for Czech companies in the future.
Mining, mining and oil industry
According to allcountrylist, Mali has extensive and rich gold deposits, which are mined here, among other things, in a primitive way without the use of modern mining technologies.
A license in the field of gold mining associated with the supply and maintenance of mining machines could certainly be an opportunity for Czech companies. Another area is the possibility of extracting gravel and sand from the Niger River and its subsequent processing and use in the construction industry.
Defense and weapons industry
A war has been going on in Mali since 2012. The Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) are unable to face the separatists and jihadists without sufficient training and quality material. In addition, the political situation in the country changed in August 2020 after the military coup.
Here, after full recognition of the legitimacy of the new political elite, there is an opportunity for Czech companies established in the defense and arms industry, which has a long-standing tradition in the Czech Republic. Whether it should be non-lethal material used, for example, for FAMa training (Czech soldiers have been participating in FAMa training as part of the EUTM training mission since 2013) or the supply of lethal material for the army and police.
Another need that has arisen in Mali is the monitoring and guarding of extensive permeable borders in the form of physical and technical control. Here, Czech companies could offer their experience with unmanned UAVs.
Considering the considerable production of cotton, it would be worth considering the development of the related processing, i.e. textile industry, and the same is true in the case of the processing and preservation of seasonal agricultural products and surpluses, not only those of plants, but also of animals.