BAMAKO (Reuters) – Mali’s economy will grow 6 percent this year, bolstered by agricultural and mining production, the ministry of economy and finance said on Tuesday, up from an expansion of 4.9 percent in 2015.
According to preliminary figures, the West African nation produced 8.04 million tonnes of grain this season, up from 6.98 million in 2014-2015, and 550,370 tonnes of cotton, an increase from 548,000 tonnes in 2014-2015.
“The prospects are good,” Oumar Diall, head of Mali’s forecasting and economic analysis division, told Reuters. “The growth performance will be particularly in agricultural cotton but also gold exports,” he added.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta said last month that Mali produced 50 tonnes of gold in 2015 and hopes to produce more in 2016 as new mines comes online, though no specific forecast has been given.
The projected economic growth this year would represent a turnaround for Mali, one of the region’s leading cotton producers, whose growth slipped to 4.9 percent last year, down from 7.2 percent in 2014.
Malian government forces are embroiled in a conflict with Tuareg separatists in the north of the country. Although a peace deal was signed last June, mediators have struggled to enforce it and militants have continued to stage deadly attacks including at a hotel in the capital Bamako in November.
(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo, writing by Edward McAllister; editing by Gareth Jones)