Invited to Qatar to participate in the Doha Forum (26-27 March), Mali’s prime minister Choguel Maïga was expected to take part in the Qatar Africa Business Forum, whose session was devoted to the challenges and opportunities of investment in Africa.
Slightly late, the prime minister tried to promote “doing business” in Mali, which is no easy task. “The region where 90% of the Malian economy is concentrated is now liberated,” he said, defending the actions of his 10-month old government, which he said was the result of a “popular uprising.”
Inventory of national potential
Referring to gold mines – Mali is West Africa’s second largest producer -, gas wells, and cotton “exported at 98%,” Mali’s prime minister took stock of the country’s potential for foreign investment, focusing on the agri-food industry.
As for the challenges, he essentially pointed to a “significant energy deficit.” Maïga also praised an investment code that is “among the most attractive.”
Speaking in French to a mainly Arabic and English-speaking audience, he called on private investors “and in particular those from Qatar and the Gulf States” to invest in Mali, describing them as “natural partners historically.”
Strategic influence struggles
On a more political level, he said he was “working towards returning to normal constitutional order.” Although he did not mention the fact that Ecowas economic sanctions had been extended, as announced last Friday, despite an order – which had been issued the day before by the Court of Justice of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) – demanding that they be suspended. The regional organisation wants the transition period to last between 12 and 16 months, while the prime minister, also former minister of digital economy (2015-2016), would prefer “two years.”
“It is true that there are misunderstandings with certain external partners, especially European countries. These are struggles for strategic influence, but we no longer want to be prisoners to a single alliance. We want multilateralism on the economic level, on the defence level… We no longer want to be under the thumb of a single country that dictates what should be done,” said Maïga, without directly mentioning France.
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