World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Mali

Mali: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Mali

The forms of address are those of France, eg Monsieur le Directeur. Lightweight suit and tie are advised for only the smartest meetings. Otherwise, a light, open-neck shirt is worn. It is essential to be able to speak French for business purposes.

Office Hours

Mon-Thurs 0730-1230 and 1300-1600, Fri 0730-1230 and 1430-1730.


Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world with an average per capita annual income of about US$470 (2006), an unemployment rate of 14.6% and 64% below the poverty line (2001) . The economy is almost entirely agricultural even though less than 2% of the land is cultivable. Livestock and subsistence crops such as millet, sorghum, maize and rice are raised for domestic consumption.

The main cash crop is cotton, of which Mali is one of Africa's largest producers and exporters. The Malian cotton industry, upon which one-third of the population depend for their livelihood, is in serious difficulty because of exceptionally low world prices.

Mali is one of the largest gold producers in Africa. Marble, salt and phosphates are also being exploited; there are also known reserves of iron ore and uranium.

Much of the economy has been privatised and deregulated since 1997 under the supervision of the IMF with which Mali presently enjoys good relations. Mali has also been one of the main beneficiaries of the debt cancellation for the poorest countries, and it continues to rely on foreign aid and remittances from émigrés. Mali is a member of ECOWAS and various other West African multinational economic organisations.
Information can be obtained from the embassy (see Contact Addresses).


US$5.8 billion (2006).

Main exports

Cotton, gold and livestock.

Main imports

Food, machinery and equipment, petroleum products, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and textiles.

Main trading partners

China, Thailand, France, Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire.

Keeping in Touch in Mali


Outgoing international calls must be made via the international operator. These are expensive and collect calls cannot be made from Mali.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with several international mobile phone companies. Coverage is limited to main towns.


There is an Internet cafe in Bamako. Some hotels offer access.


Mali's broadcast and print media are among the most free in Africa.


International post is limited to main towns and the central post office. Airmail to Europe takes approximately two weeks.

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