As I am heading down the tiny and very dark corridors of Bamako's main market, past other sellers and at times no one but me behind an older Malian man who is going to take me to the best shop to buy a traditional outfit (Bazin), I realize I can walk around Bamako in a public taxi, motorcycle or simply walk around by myself because I absolutely blend in. Unlike the common European perception Mali is mixed. From the Peule, or Tuarek to Toucouleurs, Bambara, there are many different ethnicities.
Mali has never been the type of country where you spend your annual holidays. With too much political up rest and many bad press coverages, it has not developed to be a tourist hot spot.
Mali has a new government: the people of Mali have spoken and chosen to redefine their democratic interest much to the dislike of the French. However Bamako has always been the hub for seminars and company board meetings of West and Central African companies. Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa with its capital Bamako: there is a number of hotels in the centre, infrastructure is good and the people are welcoming. Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of just over 1,240,000 square kilometres. The population of Mali is only 19.1 million. 67% of its population was estimated to be under the age of 25 in 2017.
The new government consists of 25 ministers of whom 4 are military. This marks new beginnings including peace talks within the ethnicities.
Mali is a country that boasts opportunities for investment in development and cooperation and wants to further foreign direct investment. The following are prioritized:
Fishing and fish processing
Livestock and forestry
Mining and metallurgical industries
Water and energy production industries
Tourism and Hotel industries
Human and animal health promotion
Vocational and technical training
Cultural promotion enterprises
When doing business with countries that one is not familiar with, I suggest doing business through a third party. European countries and the US who are working with their diaspora are ad an advantage.
Doing business with Africa in particular means you have to understand the people, the market and its dynamics. But you have to equally find love and respect for the people living in it, their values and their dynamics. With an emerging pan African mind set, many African leaders and decision makers; Africa is on the way of developing itself; they are no longer accepting colonial mind set and behaviour by investors.
Mali is ready for business but are you ready for Mali?