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Mali Country Report

Country Risk Level

High

Overview

Executive Summary

Malian President Keïta’s removal in a military coup on 18 August 2020 was triggered by mass protests since June calling for his resignation over accusations of presiding over corruption, poverty, and failure to restore security. The opposition coalition M5-RFP, which led the demonstrations, has agreed to work with the new military leaders in forming a transitional administration ahead of fresh elections. While Keïta’s removal has been condemned internationally, the coup has received popular backing internally and attempts to restore him to power would likely drive violent protests, increasing civil-war risks. The main opposition leader, Soumaila Cissé, kidnapped by presumed jihadists in March, remains in captivity. Mounting rivalry between jihadist groups creates a complex security situation, likely to be exacerbated by the coup, with kidnap, death and injury risks rising as they vie for superiority in northern and central Mali; furthermore, attacks will likely escalate across Mali’s borders. France will probably come under pressure to at least reduce its counter-terrorism Operation Barkhane as anti-French sentiments grow in the Sahel, with the focus likely on boosting the capabilities of the G5-Sahel regional force. Economic growth is expected to average 4.5% during 2020–21 and then gradually decline to 4.0% in the three–five-year outlook. Mali's growth prospects remain largely driven by domestic demand, especially public fixed capital formation. Escalating security issues remain an important downside risk for Mali's economic growth, potentially undermining the currently favourable projections. Mali relies substantially on foreign grants and official lending to cover its annual balance-of-payments needs and fiscal imbalances, as well as to fund priority social and economic programmes. This reliance on external donors heightens the risks to its future growth trajectory.

Operational Outlook

Mali’s new National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) quickly reopened air and land borders three days after the military coup, but neighbouring countries have kept theirs closed, which is likely to delay cargo deliveries and pose transport restrictions. Landlocked Mali depends on seaports in neighbouring countries for imports and exports. The operational environment will remain unstable and liable to change at short notice due to jihadist and inter-communal violence. Ongoing challenges include strikes, demonstrations, and inadequate infrastructure as road networks are underdeveloped, which may provoke protest blockades by truck drivers.

Terrorism

Jihadist groups are likely to adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach in the immediate aftermath of the military coup. A void in Mali’s leadership will almost certainly benefit Islamist militants, resulting in increased attacks against military and civilian targets, including kidnappings, extending further into the wider region particularly border areas with Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Algeria. ECOWAS sanctions will further impede operations of the regional G-5 Sahel counter-terrorism force, already beset by logistical, co-ordination, and financial constraints. Russia is likely to assume a greater military co-operation role.

Crime

There is a high level of crime and insecurity in northern and central regions, given the large presence of criminal and terrorist groups that operate in the desert border regions with Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger trafficking in contraband. Criminals, militants, and Malian security forces have been known to set up roadblocks to extort from travellers. The Malian police force lacks adequate resources for effective policing.

War Risks

The regional group ECOWAS is likely to try and find a diplomatic solution to Mali’s transitional administration, despite reports that the military leaders are seeking a three-year handover. President Keita’s removal in the August 2020 coup has received widespread support in the country, but civil war risks are likely to increase if the military retains power beyond a year. Jihadist groups are likely to exploit inter-communal violence in northern and central Mali to foment ethnically motivated unrest.

Social Stability

Immediate civil unrest risks have receded following the removal of President Keïta in a military coup on 18 August. Gatherings since then have been in support of the armed forces responsible for his ousting. However, risks will rise again if the military attempts to retain power beyond a year. Prolonged ECOWAS economic sanctions also increase the risk of protests by traders unable to sell their goods and by the population unable to afford rising prices. The security forces would likely intervene to disperse any protests, as evidenced by the dispersal of small pro-Keïta demonstrations following the coup.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all travelers over the age of one year entering the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - chloroquine and proguanil (sometimes marketed as Paludrine ) or proguanil and atovaquone (sometimes marketed as Mepron).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

Bamako's rainy season lasts from June to October and can lead to large-scale flash flooding and landslides. In July and August 2016, torrential rains hit the country, killing 14 people. Due to the lack of water drainage infrastructures, roads are often impassable and the supply of basic services disrupted.

Transportation

Transportation conditions are particularly dangerous in Mali. With the exception of main roads, most roads are unpaved, posing a significant risk especially during the rainy season (June to October).

The lack of public lighting, dangerous driving habits, and old vehicles also increase the danger of driving. For any road travel, be sure to pack water, food, and fuel reserves. Only drive by daylight and take a vehicle with four-wheel drive. Travelers should also bring a GPS and a satellite phone. Make sure that the vehicle contains mechanical spare parts (wheels, cables, etc.). Accidents may easily escalate into a violent riot in the event of fatalities. In case of an accident, travelers should remain in their vehicle and proceed immediately to the nearest police station. On roads in northern and central Mali there is also the risk of mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs); driving should be avoided.

Long-distance road travel can be extremely dangerous. Bandits are active on the roads, always armed, and potentially violent. Carjackings are frequent throughout the country. It is advised to drive with doors locked and windows rolled up.

Finally, be advised that the rail lines connecting Bamako to Dakar are unsafe.

Practical Information

Climate

Generally speaking, Mali's rainy season lasts from July until September, but is shorter in the Sahel region (in the north of the country). The further south you travel, the more common and abundant rains become. Temperatures can reach 30°C during the months of July, August, December, and January, even reaching 40°C - 50°C in certain regions.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +223
Police in Bamako: 20 22 52 27 or 20 22 52 28 or 20 22 44 05

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal