Country Profile
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 09:47

Country profile: Mali

Mali is a Western African country with a population of more than 14-million people. The country struggles to provide power to all its residents as the government faces various challenges to secure and sustain energy supply.

Mali, which is officially known as the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in Western Africa with a population of 14,5-million. The country’s economy is built on its agriculture and fishing industries. Some of Mali’s natural resources are gold, uranium, livestock and salt. About half of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1,25 a day.

The present-day Mali was once part of three West African empires. In the late 19th century, France seized control of the country and made it part of the French Sudan. At the time, this Sudanese Republic and Senegal broke their ties with France and became independent as the Mali Federation. Then Senegal withdrew and the Sudanese Republic was named Mali. Like in many other African countries, Mali was ruled by dictatorship until 1991. A military coup followed and ushered in a period of democratic rule. After another civil war between the military coup and democratic leaders that took place in the new millennium, Dioncounda Traore was appointed as the interim president on 12 April 2012.

Location: Interior Western Africa, southwest of Algeria, north of Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, west of Nigeria.

Climate: Subtropical to arid; hot and dry (February to June); rainy, humid and mild (June to November); cool and dry (November to February).

Terrain: Mostly flat to rolling northern plains covered by sand, savanna in the south, rugged hills in the northeast.

Elevation extremes:
•    Lowest point: Senegal River 23 m
•    Highest point: Hombori Tondo 1,155 m

Natural resources: Gold, phosphates, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, gypsum, granite, hydropower. Bauxite, iron ore, manganese, tin and copper deposits are known, but not exploited.

Land use:
•    Arable land: 3,76%
•    Permanent crops: 0,03%
•    Other: 96,21% (2005)

Natural hazards: Hot, dust-laden harmattan haze is common during dry seasons, recurring droughts and occasional Niger River flooding.

Environment-current issues: Deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, inadequate supplies of potable water, poaching.

GDP (purchasing power parity): $18,26-billion (2011 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $11-billion (2011 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 5,3% (2011 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $1 300 (2011 est.)

GDP – composition by sector:
•    Agriculture: 38,8%
•    Industry: 21,9%
•    Services: 39,3% (2011 est.)

Electricity – production: 490-million kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 455,7-million kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Total primary energy supply: (2007): 3 500 ktoe
Biomass: 78%
Oil and Products: 18%
Electricity: 4%

Oil – production: 0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Oil – consumption: 6 000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Oil – exports: 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Oil – imports: 4 507 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Oil – proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural gas – production:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 0 cu m (2009 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2009 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2009 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current account balance: -$798,6-million (2011 est.)
Exports: $2,7-billion (2011 est.)
Exports – commodities: Cotton, gold, livestock

Imports: $2,942-billion (2011 est.)
Imports – commodities: Petroleum, machinery and equipment, construction materials, foodstuffs, textiles.
Debt – external: $3,542-billion (31 December 2011 est.)

Energy profile of Mali

According to the website, renewable energy, excluding large hydro >10 MW, have never been properly and completely accounted for in any analysis, but could represent around 3% of conventional electricity generated, or about 9 MW.

Electricity generation is vulnerable to climate variability since a significant portion of the supply in the Energie du Mali-Societe Anonyme (EDM SA) network comes from hydropower plants. Electricity prices in Mali are high compared to similar countries in the region, especially considering the poverty levels of the population.

The cost of producing power in the country is between $0,33 and $0,39 per kilowatt-hour and, depending on the referential year, is significantly higher than in similar countries. This is because Mali’s power costs are pegged to international oil prices, given its predominantly thermal-based generation capacity, and are prone of additional mark-ups related to transport.

The energy demand in Mali is dominated by the residential sector, which accounts for about 70% of the country’s total consumption. This consumption is  dominated by wood and charcoal for cooking. Biomass accounts for nearly 80% of the national energy supply. The pervasive use of biomass for domestic purposes is a contributor to deforestation and respiratory illness in the country. The challenge for Mali is to meet its growing energy demand with affordable, reliable, domestic and imported energy supplies.

Mali’s energy situation is characterised by an energy balance dominated by fuel wood. This is an indication of the immense pressure on the country’s forests. The deforestation rate is about 400 000 hectares per annum to cater for approximately 6-million tonnes in yearly demand for wood.

The country’s government also needs to deal with a sharp increase in electricity demand, about 10% a year. This means that the economy requires major investments to increase power generation capacity as well as transmission and supply. There is a rise in the electrification rate by 4% per year.

Mali has limited developed domestic energy supply and increasing energy demand. To meet this demand, Mali has relied more heavily on expensive diesel generation and imports from neighbouring countries.

All petroleum products are imported through principal trunk roads leading to the West African ports, like Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Cotonou (Benin), Dakar (Senegal), Lome (Togo) and Tema (Ghana). The petroleum product consumption is dominated by diesel oil.

Annual imports represented 710 642 tonnes in 2010, over USD 722,75-million. The volume of fuel consumption of the utility EDM SA tripled in the period from 2005 to 2010. From 2009 to 2010 the volume of fuel consumption increased considerably by 23,7%.

Access to electricity

Access to electricity in Mali more than doubled in the last decade, helped by the introduction of a successful programme for rural electrification, AMADER, which widened access to more than 36 000 rural households since 2003.

There is a substantial rural-urban gap in access. Mali’s population is more than 13-million, but there are only about 150 000 electricity connections, two-thirds of which are in the capital city of Bamako. The ratio of urban connections to rural connections is 14 to one. The rural-urban electrification divide reveals that the country’s improvements in service access and quality were either in areas that were already electrified or were a result of extending the network to areas close to an EDM supply point.

According to the website, Mali still faces critical power sector infrastructure challenges. “The cost of producing power in Mali is among the highest in the region ($0,33-0,39 per kWh), an obstacle to expanding access to unconnected households. Despite recent achievements, only about 18% of the population enjoys access to electricity, which is much lower than the rates found in other low-income countries on the continent,” the website states. The power tariff of about USD 0,20 per kilowatt-hour, while relatively high, is still insufficient to cover costs. Diversification of the generation mix is necessary. This will involve tapping the country’s hydropower potential and increasing reliance on imports.

The Mali government still has a long way to go to ensure that energy security in the country is managed and accessible to all.

Full acknowledgement and thanks are given to and for the information given to write this article.