Mali - Country Commercial Guide
Market Challenges

Learn about barriers to market entry and local requirements, i.e., things to be aware of when entering the market for this country.

Last published date: 2022-08-08

Beyond political instability and insecurity, foreign investors face a myriad of challenges in Mali.  The administrative procedures to start a business are numerous and time-consuming, and corruption and bribery remain rampant in many government offices.  Investors report that corruption is particularly pervasive in procurement, customs, tax payment, administrative processing, and land management.  Despite recent efforts to simplify property registration, the administration and safeguarding of land ownership remain a matter of concern for investors and ordinary citizens alike.  Recent reforms introduced in mining, customs, and land administration cannot guarantee the proper enforcement of business contracts, which depends on an unpredictable judicial system.  The tax authority adopted significant measures to facilitate the payment of taxes, but their impact remains unclear.

Investors, particularly in the manufacturing sectors, struggle with an inadequate and unreliable electrical grid that causes frequent power cuts, particularly in the dry season.  Other major challenges to investment include poor transportation infrastructure and a large informal economy.  Insufficient skilled labor poses a barrier to growth for industries such as industrial mining, which require more advanced skills.  Access to credit remains a first order problem as well, as interest rates are high and local banks prefer to provide short-term loans even as many infrastructure projects require more long-term financial instruments.  French companies operating in Mali tend to enjoy an advantage over their American counterparts thanks to sharing a common language and many historical ties with Malians.  Local familiarity with French culture, business traditions, and brand names, as well as generous French trade financing and export subsidies, also benefit French companies.  Cheaper imports from China now dominate many markets.  Mali, a landlocked country suffering from severe poverty, has only a small domestic market for consumer goods.