- Population - 13.52m (2005)
- % change in consumer price inflation - 6.4% (2005)
- GDP at constant 1987 prices - Fr 1,170.8bn (2004)
- Bank interest rate - 4% (2005)
The Dakar-based Banque des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (BCEAO) acts as the central bank for Mali and the seven other members of the West African area of the Franc Zone. There are over ten banks in Mali, including one agricultural bank and one housing bank, governed by BCEAO regulations and supervised at the regional level. Banque de développement du Mali (BDM) is the largest bank, and, after its IMF-approved merger with Banque malienne de crédit et de dépôt in 2001, it became one of the ten largest banks in the Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine (UEMOA). Other large commercial banks include Bank of Africa (BOA Mali) and the Banque internationale pour le commerce et l'industrie du Mali (BICIM), which is a subsidiary of a French group, BNP Paribas. Ecobank Mali, a subsidiary of Ecobank Transnational, headquartered in Lomé, the capital of Togo, is the main investment bank, with particular expertise in providing financial services to the agri-processing and telecommunications sectors.
Mali's financial services sector is characterised by extensive government ownership, which has led to the availability of only a limited range of financial products and weak intermediation. The privatisation of the banking sector should increase the sophistication of financial services. The government is committed to proceeding with the sale of the Banque internationale du Mali (BIM) by the end of 2006. Talks are under way on the privatisation of the Banque de développement du Mali (BDM), which was recapitalised in 2005. Mali's banking system is also characterised by a high concentration of lending in a few sectors, notably the cotton sector, which stems from a shortage of viable projects and the poor legal framework for the pursuit of bad debtors, contributing to excessive risk-concentration. Prudential ratios are only partially met, an issue that the authorities expect to address based on a forthcoming review of commercial banks' loans.
As banking services are concentrated in urban areas, rural borrowers rely on the microfinance sector, which has seen rapid growth in recent years. The BCEAO estimated that there were 419 microfinance institutions at the end of 2002, with deposits of CFAfr19.8bn (US$31.7m) and total loans of CFA23.9bn. According to data from the IMF, microfinance institutions grew strongly in 2003 and 2004, with deposits increasing by 18% and 17.1% in the two years respectively, and loans expanding by 19.8% and 14.1%. The average ratio of non-performing loans to total loans increased from 4.4% in 2002 to 6.2% in 2003, but recovered to 4.8% in 2004.
Soruce: The Economist Intelligence Unit