Research Intern, Jindal Centre for the Global South,
O.P. Jindal Global University, India.
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa. It is the eighth-largest country in Africa. Mali, despite being a poor, deeply indebted, landlocked country in Sub-Saharan Africa, possess significant bauxite, gold, iron ore, and phosphate reserves. Mali has experienced three coups in less than a decade, the most recent one in May 2021. Mali is on the edge of political upheaval, despite regional and international backing from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations (UN). Militancy, insurgency, and Islamist extremism afflict Mali, making it impossible for the government to operate in a peaceful and productive manner. These factors obstruct the path and prolong the aim of achieving sustainable development goals.
Causes of political instability:
- Internal politics
Mali was a French colonial rule since when it attained independence. Mali has been democratic multi-party state since 1990. However, the period of 2011–2021 has witnessed a breakdown in the political architecture of Mali.
2012 Coup: Insurgent groups such as the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, a separatist organisation made of the ethnic Tuaregs who seek to establish a separate Tuareg state called Azawad in northern Mali, launched an armed conflict against the government in January 2012, seizing control of the country’s northern territories. The insurgency spawned instability which was exacerbated by a military coup launched by soldiers against the government for failing to curb the insurgent groups. Ibrahim Boubacar Keta won the presidential elections in August 2013.
2020 Coup: Till then, President Keita had been re-elected in the 2018 elections, and Mali had been in a period of political stability up till then. The rebel groups on the other hand constituted an ongoing threat to Mali’s central and northern regions. Protests against the government for its inefficiency in dealing with the security crisis, rigged elections and corruption in the administration began in June 2020. President Keita’s resignation was sought by protesters such as the Movement–Rally of Patriotic Force (M5-RFP).
2021Coup: The smooth progress in administration was drastically disturbed by the conflicts within the transitional government. On May 24, 2021, Col. Goïta declared that he had seized power from the transitional President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane after they failed to consult him on the formation of a new administration.
- Inefficient and corrupt administration:
Many countries offered military assistance to Mali in the fight against the rebel Islamist groups. However none of these groups has been fully successful. And it is the inept national government that is to blame for this failure. In June 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a phased withdrawal of its troops from Mali because of its inability to work with the national government. In 2013, the United Nations MINUSMA was established in 2013 to carry out security-related tasks and support political processes in Mali. Although the mission was a huge success, 243 peacekeepers were killed making it the “most deadliest US mission.” (Dinesh, 2022).The Mali government failed to recognise any of these acts and was considered to be irresponsible.
- Security Crisis
Mali is besieged by insurgency, jihadist groups, militancy, and terrorist outfits in its northern region, as well as vigilante and bandit violence in nearly all areas of the country. It has turned into a haven for organised crime and illegal operations like drug smuggling and human trafficking.
Local insurgent movements like Tuareg rebels became affiliated to external terrorist groups such as AQIM, which made inroads into the region in 2017 by merging with local affiliates to establish the Union for Supporting Islam and Muslims, worsening the crisis. Frequent attacks on civilians by armed extremist groups have led to the displacement of 3,70,000 people. Apart from remaining in northern and central Mali, extremist groups such as JNIM are attempting to expand into Mali’s south.
Economic Condition of Mali
Mali is a low- income country with a significant sensitivity to commodities price swings. Agriculture and food security are threatened by rapid population expansion and climate change. In 2019, the extreme poverty rate was 42.3%, but the health, security, and political crises of 2020 resulted in 5% increase in poverty. 90% of the country’s poverty is concentrated in the southern region’s highly populated rural areas. Mali’s economy entered recession in 2020 because of a combination of low agricultural performance, the pandemic, and a socio-political crisis. However, real GDP rebounded slightly in 2021, with a growth estimate of 3.1% due to the recovery in key sectors of agriculture and services. (Data, 2022)
Mali progress in achieving Sustainable Development Goals:
Institutions such as the World Bank and the IDF have stepped up to assist Mali in achieving its SDGs.
The Emergency Safety Net Project “Jigisemejiri” (tree of hope) aims to eliminate poverty (SDG 1) and food insecurity (SDG 2) in Mali. The timeline from 2013 to highlights the following accomplishments:
Nutritional supplements were given to 1,05,000 persons. (Data, Overview results, 2022) 60 highly labour-intensive community public works projects were completed. This programme served 96,380 households in total. A total of 11,000 households participated in income-generating activities (livestock farming, poultry farming, processing of agricultural products and small businesses).
The urban drinking water supply project aims to achieve this SDG 6 goal of supplying safe water. In 2019, 65% of Bamako’s residents had access to drinking water, and households faced a huge water shortage. Given the urgency, the government developed the Urban Water Supply Project, a multi-donor initiative that aims to deliver 95% of Bamako’s population with safe drinking water from Kabala by 2025: The overall number of programme beneficiaries in Bamako will approach 1.6 million by the end of 2022.
Mali has the potential to achieve its sustainable development goals at a tremendous rate if the following actions are taken with the stringiest measures:
- Better Government Administration: The government should be proactive in taking care of the military, which is being supplied by a foreign country. The negligence of doing anything to compensate the 243 lives of UN peacekeepers lowers the morale of foreign soldiers to work on a mission to safeguard the weak country.
- Agricultural reforms: Agriculture is Mali’s main source of revenue. Some land reforms are required in agriculture to increase production capacity, such as a boost in irrigation, the adoption of high-yielding seeds, the transition to genetically modified crops, and construction of infrastructure to store excess food in hygienic conditions
- Increase Gold mining: Mali’s 80 percent of revenue is generated through gold exports. Because these firms will have advanced and efficient technology to extract gold at a higher pace, the government should invite significant multinational companies to come in foreign direct investment to expand gold production. This will generate employment for the natives of Mali.
Mali is leading the way toward reaching the Sustainable Development Goals despite political instability like as insurgency, terrorist assaults, and coups, as well as recession during the pandemic and poverty. The World Bank and IDA are supporting Mali’s vision to achieve its goals on time. The sole issue impeding progress towards the SDG’s goal is the inefficient and corrupt government. Countries like France and the US, instead of supporting Mali militarily, should encourage to Mali to fight for itself and should increase the path of good governance by giving seminars to the leaders and their citizens. The Malian state should be helped in rebuilding itself. The solution to deal with the situation in Mali must be aimed at equipping the government for efficient and stable administration. In doing so, the role of civil society must be emphasised.
Overview. World Bank. ( 2022, April 14). Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/mali/overview#1
Dinesh, S. (2022, January 14). Decoding State of Affairs in Mali: Internal Politics, Security Crisis and External Involvement | Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from https://idsa.in/issuebrief/decoding-state-of-affairs-in-mali-sdinesh-140122
Joint Programme for Influencing Financing of Human Capital Development in Mali. (2021, February 4). Joint Programme for Influencing Financing of Human Capital Development in Mali | Joint SDG Fund. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://jointsdgfund.org/programme/joint-programme-influencing-financing-human-capital-development-mali
Skretteberg, R. (n.d.). Sahel – The worlds most neglected and conflict-ridden region. Norwegian Refugee Council. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.nrc.no/shorthand/fr/sahel—the-worlds-most-neglected-and-conflict-ridden-region/index.html
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author (s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Jindal Centre for the Global South or its members.