Mali Leans On China As Investments Across Africa Heighten

Written by Soumaila Diarra

In the Malian capital Bamako, mobs screamed welcoming president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who returned from China in early September. The popular reception was related to China’s commitment to make unprecedented investments, according to the government. But analysts say it is a propaganda trying to veil the difficult economic situation of the country.

According to Youssouf Keita, a Bamako based journalist, the political party of president Keita tried to manipulate the national opinion with China’s agreement to make important investments in the Malian economy.

“The aim of this manipulation is to improve the image of the president who really disappointed his electors and the partners of Mali”, Keita told AFKInsider.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the European Union suspended their budgetary aid to Mali last June due to bad governance and corruption practices.

“The president became unpopular because of the crisis with international donors combined with people’s economic difficulties and his failure to address the insecurity situation in the North of the country as he had promised,” Keita added.

In China, the Malian president was a special guest for the World Economic Forum that took place in early September. Back to Bamako, he announced on national television that his country signed several agreements with the Chinese authorities who will invest in Mali, making important changes in sectors like energy, infrastructure, transport and the mines.

Infrastructure in the war-stressed North

According to the Malian minister of investment, Moustapha Ben Barka, China will build a 900 km (560 miles) railway between Mali and neighboring Guinea Conakry. This project will cost $8 million. An old railway between Mali and Senegal, measuring 750 km (466 miles), will also be rehabilitated by the Chinese government. These transport projects will help Mali, a land locked country, to get easier access to overseas markets, Ben Barka told journalists in Bamako.

China is also planning to materialize other transport infrastructure in Mali, including the 4th bridge of the capital city where commuters face huge traffic jams.

“I’m really happy to hear from our authorities there will be a new bridge in Bamako. Hopefully this will put an end to the traffic jams that make people suffer,” Kaba Diakité, a militant of the Malian president’s party told AFKInsider.

The lack of transport infrastructures in the war-stressed northern part of Mali is stated by some rebels amidst their grievances against Malian authorities.

“In this part of the country, the president is working to bring great changes in terms of governance and local development. The proof is that government convinced China to build three roads in that part of the country,” Diakité said.