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Mali - January 7-11, 2002

CEME Best Practice Options: Mali

January 7-11, 2002

Mali: Democratic Hope....................................................................................................................... 2

Co-development and Co-Management of Migration..................................................... 4

Assisted Returns.................................................................................................................................... 5

Mobilization of Malians abroad for development..................................................... 8

Emigration and Democratization/Respect for Human Rights............................... 8

Malian Migration to Cote d'Ivoire........................................................................................... 8

Participants........................................................................................................................................... 14

Bibliography.......................................................................................................................................... 14

The Cooperative Efforts to Manage Emigration (CEME) project examines ways in which countries of origin, transit, and destination can work together to coordinate migration movements and reduce emigration pressures. The project focuses on source countries of migration that are in transition to market economies, democratic systems and greater respect for human rights, since these developments are the best long-term solution to unauthorized migration.

CEME organizes site visits to seek best practices for:

· spurring economic development, democratization and respect for human rights in migrant areas of origin;

· developing cooperative efforts to use the three R's associated with migration flows—recruitment, remittances, and returns—to help to reduce emigration pressures; and

· promoting ongoing cooperation on migration matters between countries of origin, transit and destination.

The fourth CEME site visit was January 7-11, 2002 in Mali, followed by a visit to Senegal. Mali, a poor country that embraced democracy in 1991, is considered a democratic role model for francophone Africa. It is grappling with several migration issues, including:

· well-established networks that move thousands of Malians abroad, often with false documents, for $2,000 to $3,000.

· the dependence of the Kayes region, with 1.5 million residents, on emigration, particularly the remittances sent by its workers abroad -- several innovative projects aim to help returning migrants become economically independent and create jobs for non-migrants

· the migration of especially Mali and Burkina Faso children to work on cocoa and coffee plantations in the Ivory Coast and other neighboring countries.

Mali is generally considered among the poorest five countries around the world, but is also considered one of the most promising democracies in west Africa. The purpose of the site visit was to learn about emigration pressures, and to review programs that may lead to stay at home development in the Kayes region bordering Senegal. The site visit revealed:

· The Kayes region of Mali is extraordinarily dependent on remittances, which have improved the lives of residents, and added schools and clinics, but do not seem to have led to the establishment of large numbers of businesses that promise stay-at-home development

· The Mali government seems open to co-development--the linking of migration and development—, cooperates with assisted return programs for unauthorized Malians in France, and works with international organizations to attract educated Malians back to Mali

· Mali is open to donor suggestions for economic development, so that most residents will not have to depend agriculture and cattle raising in a water-scarce region. However, there was little evidence that Mali and its donors have found the country's comparative advantage for sustained economic growth. For example, even though Mali is a cotton producer, its cotton is mostly exported raw, and the cloth is re-imported to be turned into clothing.

Mali: Democratic Hope
Mali is a large country (the size of California and Texas combined) in central western Africa whose name comes from the Mali empire of the upper and middle Niger river.[1] Because the Niger river makes an arc through Mali from southwest to north to southeast, it has long been a crossroads between northern and western Africa.[2]

Mali became a French colony in the 1890s and gained its independence of French colonial rule in 1960. The country immediately adopted a socialist economic model, with rural cooperatives organized to produce cotton and groundnuts (peanuts) for export. Military leader Moussa Traore became President after a 1968 coup and enacted a new constitution in 1974. The democratic uprising led by students March 22, 1991 resulted in the election of Alpha Oumar Konaré, the candidate of the Association for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA), and a new constitution in 1992. Konaré was re-elected in 1997; new elections are scheduled in 2002. Konare will not run, marking Mali's first democratic power transition.[3] Mali has a free press, and a vibrant multi-party system of governance. During our visit, respondents overwhelming affirmed their belief that the presidential transition will be peaceful.

Bamako is Mali's major city, with about 1 million residents, followed by Segou, Mopti, and Sikasso, about 100,000 each. Mali is divided into eight regions: Kayes, Koulikoro, Sikasso, Ségou, Mopti, Gao, Timbuktu and Bamako and, since September 1999, there has been a decentralization of power, with governing authority shared by elected mayors in the 701 communes (including the 19 cities) and appointed officials ("commissaires du gouvernement") who are the representatives of the central government in the regions, and the cercles (districts roughly equivalent to counties).

Mali's 11 million residents are among the poorest in the world. The World Bank put per capita income at $240 in 2000; GDP was $2.3 billion in 2000—equivalent to about two hours of US GDP.[4] Mali has a human development index score of 0.38 and a per capita GDP at PPP of $740; neighbors Ivory Coast and Senegal have HDI's of 0.42, and per capita GDP-PPPs of $1,300 and $1,600, that is, more than twice as much per person buying power.

Mali's population, 4 million at independence in 1960, is growing rapidly, up 3.1 percent or 300,000 a year, which means that 45 percent of residents are under 15. Mali has a projected population of 21 million in 2025. Women average 6 to 7 children, and half have their first child before age 20. About 60 percent of those 15 and older are illiterate, and life expectancy is about 50 years. The richest 10 percent of residents have about 56 percent of income and wealth.

Although Mali is mostly an emigration country, it has seen small in-flows of refugees. According to both UNHCR and government estimates, there were approximately 11,000 Mauritanian refugees, mostly Fulani herders, living in the Kayes region of western Mali in 1999, and another 1,900 refugees, 80 percent from Sierra Leone, in Bamako.

About 75 percent of Malians live in rural areas, and 75 percent of Mali's four million economically active workers are subsistence farmers, many located along the Niger river between Bamako and Mopti. Most farmers live in villages that have 150 to 600 residents, and most grow rice, wheat, and corn (maize), as well as potatoes, yams, and cassava for their own consumption. The Office du Niger irrigates about 60,000 hectares of land for rice and sugarcane production.

Mali's major exports are gold and cotton—a massive mine in the Kayes area is the new hope for export earnings, and gold surpassed cotton as the major export in 2001. Gold production more than doubled between 2000 and 2001, as new mines were opened, but cotton production in 2000/01 was only half 1999/00 and expected 2001/02 levels The new gold mine is operated by a South African-Canadian consortium.

One reason for smaller cotton harvests is that the Compagnie malienne pour le developpement des textiles (CMDT), a legacy of socialism, controls all aspects of cotton production—it is the only supplier of seed and fertilizer and the only buyer, ginner, and exporter of cotton. The CMDT is to be privatized, but its unions are resisting plans to reduce current employment of 2,400 by up to half.[5] Despite offering lower-than-world prices to farmers, only CFA107 or $0.15 per kg in 2000/01, versus CFA 200 or $0.28 per kg in 2000/01, CMDT loses money. Chinese firms participate in the textile industry and in large-scale construction projects, including building a bridge across the Niger, a conference center, an expressway in Bamako, and some of the new stadiums.

Mali also produces millet, sorghum, and rice (in the inland Niger delta), and exports livestock. The quality of most Mali farm products is low, limiting export markets. Some 40 to 60 percent of Mali's imports are food, and Mali pays more for imported food than other developing countries because, as a landlocked country, imports must travel through other countries to reach Mali. Extremely poor road infrastructure within Mali further limits the capacity of producers to reach either internal or external markets.

Mali's economic and democratic reforms have been rewarded with foreign aid --an average $33 per resident in 2000. France, the US, UK, and the Netherlands are prominent among donors. In September 2000, donors agreed to provide Mali with US $870 million in debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HICPC) initiative, a sum equivalent to almost half Mali's GDP. In the late 1990s, the government spent $100 million over five years on five stadiums around the country in order to host the African soccer cup January 19-February 10, 2002.

Increasing access to education, and thereby reducing illiteracy, is a major goal of the government. Progress has been seen in recent years to reverse the traditionally very low levels of primary school attendance. An estimated 60 percent of age-eligible Malian children are enrolled in primary schools, 18-20 percent in secondary, and 1.5-2 percent in universities. At present, the enrollment of girls lags behind that of boys.

Mali's education system needs major reforms, including reducing the CFA 26,000 ($37) a month stipends or salaries paid to university students and increasing the spending and training for K-12 education—the university does not do teacher training. However, with students receiving a stipend that is more than the minimum wage, there is little incentive to finish studies quickly. Disruptions in 2000-01 meant that there were no university exams, and this may have contributed to more Malian students applying to study abroad—800 received visas to study in France in 2001.

Co-development and Co-Management of Migration
Mali is one of several countries that are targets of "co-development" (other countries are Morocco, Senegal and Comores). The French policy of co-development aims to link migration and development policies.

Mali and France have established the Mali-France Consultation on Migration, an annual bi-national consultation on migration between the two countries. In an official agreement signed on December 21, 2000, the representative of the two countries agreed to meet at least once a year at the ministerial level to deal with three issues: the integration of Malians who want to remain in France; co-management of migration flows; and cooperative development. Malian minister Soumaila Cisse defined "cooperative development" as a policy in which industrial nations allow migrants to circulate between their home countries and abroad. The principal focus of our visit co-management of migration and cooperative development.

Co-management has focused on a number of issues regarding both unauthorized and legal movements. The return of unauthorized Malians from France has long been an irritant in relations between the two countries. Malians figured prominently in mid-1990s protests in France in which migrants trying to avoid deportation occupied churches.[6] When France sent a charter plane with deported Malians to Bamako on August 25, 1996, President Alpha Omar Konare complained that "Some people have been expelled with absolutely nothing…[but added] We can't encourage our citizens to breach the laws of their host country." As discussed below, encouraging voluntary assisted returns—rather than relying on mandatory deportation—would better meet the interests of both countries.

Access to legal admissions has been a further area of concern. Traditionally, visa policies seriously restricted family reunification and visits as well as business travel and study abroad. Since 1997, a new visa policy was implemented that includes the obligation for the French consulates to justify some denials of visas (to parents of French citizens, students etc). France issued about 25,000 visas to Malians in 2001 compared to 7000 in 1997 (the US issues about 5,000 a year, representing about half of the 10,000 Malian applications).

In exchange for facilitating free circulation of bona fide travelers, French authorities urged Malian authorities to cooperate in reducing corruption. In October 2001, a former minister (of sports) was indicted and sent to jail for trafficking in visas.

Assisted Returns
It is said that 1.5 to two million Malians live abroad, usually in nearby African countries such as Ivory Coast (1 million) or other west African countries, including Gabon. Several hundred thousand Malians live in the industrial democracies, including 60,000 to 80,000 in France.

Can some of the Malians abroad be induced to return and contribute to Mali's development? We looked at two types of return programs: a French-funded program of voluntary assisted return, generally of Malians living illegally in France; and a United Nations program that assists temporary return of university professors.

France's assisted return program is part of its co-development strategy. About 500 unauthorized Malians in France agreed to return voluntarily in exchange for CFA 2.5 million ($3,600), and open businesses, most related to agriculture, but including hairdressing, importing used auto parts, sewing traditional dresses, and sand dredging.[7] They receive weekly visits for one year from the program's offices in Mali, and it was reported that 80 percent of those who participate are still in business after two years. This French model clearly helps to re-integrate migrants who "failed" in France, but its potential for expansion may be limited. Many of the small businesses begun by returnees had difficulty obtaining bank loans for expansion, in part because they did not have Malian track records and guarantees.

Assisted return is not a new concept to Mali. An early example is a multi-function agricultural cooperative in the Kayes region established in the 1980s. A group of migrants from four West African countries requested help from the French government and nongovernmental organizations to obtain land in the Senegal River basin to begin a farming enterprise. Prior to return, they received training from French agricultural experts and explored innovative farming techniques used in such other countries as Israel. Mali responded positively to their request for land. The cooperative has experimented with various different crops, finding that bananas offer a particularly good investment. They sell their produce to traders throughout the Kayes region, often to women who walk for miles to buy the fruit and vegetables. Poor roads, particularly in the rainy season, hinder their ability to expand.

Regardless of its economic contribution, assisted return programs provide public affairs value to both the French and Malian governments. French officials noted that the cost of deportation is about $3,500 per return because an immigration-official accompanies each deportee. The same funds not only encourage voluntary return, which is more humane, but they provide a livelihood for the returnee.

The French program generally focuses on unskilled migrants. Mali suffers as well from a brain drain resulting from the departure of its educated population. For most of the past 40 years, the Mali government provided scholarships for study abroad, and guaranteed government jobs to all university graduates. Some of those who graduated remained abroad, while others returned and swelled government payrolls.

Remittances and Development
Remittances are a major source of income in Mali. The IMF yearbook shows that total remittances reached $95 billion in 1998, including $61 billion from workers remittances and $33 billion in compensation of employees.[8] IMF data likely underestimate remittances, since many are transferred outside the banking system. One indicator of the importance of remittances is that France provides about $50 million a year in aid to Mali, and France-Mali remittances are estimated to be at least $50 million.

Most Malian migrants in France come from the Kayes region that borders on Senegal. As elsewhere in Mali, people live near the river—in this case the Senegal river. The Kayes region has about 1.5 million people, including 80,000 in the city of Kayes, and about 150,000 Kayes residents are believed to have emigrated. Migrants left the Kayes region during droughts in the early 1970s, and the region now has a migrant-remittance based economy, with an estimated 80-90 percent of remittances spent on current consumption.

The overall impression of rural Mali is extreme poverty. Cattle and sheep are the mainstays of the economy, with millet, peanuts, and other crops planted and harvested for subsistence. Some cash is earned from the sale of animals, but it appears that most cash must come from outside the village.

The high levels of emigration have produced important financial ties between migrants and their home communities. A typical community is Marena, which has 16,000 residents, many of whom had been in France. Marena migrants in France have an association, and they contribute to the village's budget. Some of the migrants stay in France, but others return with their savings to Marena. Many of the returned migrants complained about the delinquency of Malian children brought up in France and the changing family and gender relationships brought on by life in western society. It appeared that we were hearing from relatively conservative returned migrants who accumulated savings in France, but who preferred to live in Mali—at least one man returned without his wife and family, who preferred to stay in France.

Marena and similar villages are very isolated—although only 50 km from Kayes, the trip can take 1-2 hours over dirt roads that are not passable in the rainy season, from July to October. The local economy is based on corn, millet, and peanuts, and sheep (worth CFA 15,000 to 25,000) and cows (worth CFA 100,000 to 150,000). There seemed to be little evidence of stores or other types of businesses that could be expanded with remittances.

Migrant remittances help to pay for schools and teachers in the Marena area (there were also several Islamic schools). Most people in one village did not have electricity, and e.g., three families shared a compound fenced with sticks—the mud-brick houses had pantries with meal etc, and sleeping quarters, but there were no windows or lights. The three families shared a round kitchen, which seemed to have a fire going all day. Water was brought from a well near the clinic. During the dry season, dust permeates the houses. yet, migrants helped to establish a health clinic, and were going to send money to cover the cost of medical emergencies. The clinic was built, but coverage is provided under an insurance-type program to 53 families paid by families in France. This insurance type program can be an example of best practice that can be expanded to many villages of Mali and in other countries.

Kayes, like most of Mali, is wracked by desertification, deforestation, and soil degradation. There has long been significant internal migration within Mali, as farmers left their homes after the harvest for nearby cities, where they worked in a variety of jobs before returning to their villages to plant. A mid-1990s study of migrants emphasized that circular internal migration has a long history, and that some migrants stay away as long as 5-7 years (Rain). However, some of the migrants who were interviewed had been away from "home" 40+ years; even if they refused to call their moves "permanent," growing cities mean some circular migrants do not return to their villages of origin.

Mobilization of Malians abroad for development
Within the new Franco Malian co-development framework, a fund of Euro 2.6 million will finance in 2002-2004 the mobilization of Malians abroad for the service of the Malian education system, economy and small business development. The skills of Malians in France will be systematically registered and the information co-managed by a Franco-Malian committee. The fund will supplement financing by the Malian diaspora of local projects. Also a contract will be signed with a Malian bank to guarantee loans to small businesses that require additional funding for expansion of their activities.

At present, the TOKTEN project (Transfer Of Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals) aims to persuade Malians established abroad to return at least temporarily and contribute to Mali's development by e.g. teaching at Mali's 25,000-student university, which was established in 1996 and expanded rapidly. The UN Development Program has paid for 133 Malians to return as consultants to help teach and do research.

Emigration and Democratization/Respect for Human Rights
Throughout the site visit, the solid movement of Mali towards greater democratization and respect for human rights proved to be a positive counterpoint to the country's economic problems. A number of respondents observed that international migration has helped spur the democratic reforms. Malians living in Europe and North America have brought back home some of the lessons learned in western democracies. At a village meeting in Marena, a number of return migrants observed that they expected to participate in community meetings and decision-making.

Even those who expressed concerns about what they considered to be decadent western social values supported the increased democratization in Mali. Often, the reference to western values focused on the greater freedom given to women and children. In fact, the role of women and children remains an area of substantial difference between Mali and the receiving countries in Europe and North America. One European official noted that Malian officials often express concern that two traditional practices in Mali—polygamy and female genital mutilation—are illegal in the receiving state. Questions about North American rejection of these practices also arose at a public conference in which members of the CEME group spoke. Some of the return migrants appeared particularly reluctant to expose Malian women and girls to western values if it meant the undermining of cultural traditions, observing vehemently that they would never allow their wives or daughters to migrate with them to Europe or North America. In some cases, the return migrants appear to have become more socially and religiously conservative as a result of their own migration experience.

Malian Migration to Cote d'Ivoire
An estimated one million Malians live in Ivory Coast, which accounts for 40 percent of total GDP produced in the Union economique et monetaire ouest-africaine (UEMOA).[9] The Ivory Coast is a major source of remittances to Burkina Faso and Mali. Mali was receiving about $100 million a year in remittances in the mid-1990s, although remittances were trending downward in both Mali and Burkina Faso.

Workers Remittances: Selected Countries

Credits ($ mil)


Burkina Faso



Ivory Coast (Debits)

Burkina Faso data is for 1992-94.

Migration from Mali (and Burkina Faso) to the Ivory Coast involves adults and children migrating to work on coffee and cocoa plantations. The problem area is children--an estimated 15,000 Malian children between the ages of 12 and 18 have been "sold into forced labor" on the cotton, coffee, and cocoa plantations of northern Cote d'Ivoire over the past few years; an even greater number have been pressed into domestic service. The migrants have contracts, most of which offer 95,000 to 125,000 CFA ($135 to $189) for a year's work—some reports discuss annual wages of $200 to $300.

Most reports emphasize that migrants go voluntarily, but they often do not know that hard work and low pay awaits them, since the middlemen recruiters who visit Malian villages exaggerate the pay and understate the work. The recruiters pay parents $30 to $40, and then take the children away for "work and training." In Ivory Coast, work conditions are variable—the worst employers make migrants work for 10 to 12 hours a day.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the best defense against the sale of child migrants is to have local NGOs educate villagers about what really happens to their children, and to step up enforcement of laws that make recruiting and enslaving children a crime. The ILO defines a slave as someone "forced to work under physical or mental threat, and where the owner or employer controls the person completely — where a person is bought or sold."

The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo, called on member countries in October 2001 "to adopt laws criminalizing trafficking in human beings and to build the necessary administrative structures."

Mali is a traditional country of emigration, with a growing number of its migrants heading to Europe and North America. Migration occurs for work, family reunification, and education. Remittances from migrants abroad are essential to subsistence in many of the emigration communities. They also support infrastructure development and social services, including health clinics, schools and roads. As long as too few economic opportunities exist in Mali, migration will continue to follow the long- entrenched networks that help Malians go abroad.

The French program of co-development may help pave the way towards reducing emigration pressures. Targeted aid in high emigration regions could help build infrastructure, establish more viable markets, stimulate job creation, and support education and health care. Remittances will likely continue to be an important support for individual families and communities, and local efforts to channel remittances towards infrastructure development and income generation should be encouraged. Assisted return programs have less far-reaching economic impact, but in helping some migrants return voluntarily and become self-supporting, they provide incentives for further cooperation in managing migration to the benefit of both countries. In our opinion, transportation and education should be the two top priorities for the development of Mali.[10]


Cooperative Efforts to Manage Emigration


January 7-11, 2002

Grand Hotel De Bamako: grandhotel@cefib.com

Avenue Van Vollehoven, Bamako (BKO)



Tel 223 222481 Fax +233 222601

Monday, January 7, 2002. Arrival day.

7:30PM Welcome dinner at the hotel with officials of the French Embassy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2002. Remittances, Migrants, Visas
8:30AM Remittances: mechanics of transfers and effects on development. Meeting with BMDM bank and Western Union

10:30AM Meeting with the President of Mali and the Foreign Minister.

12:30PM Press conference and meeting with journalists, Grand Hotel

2:30PM Visit to French consulate to discuss visa issuance, illegal migration etc with French, American, German, and Dutch consular officials

5PM Return to hotel

7PM Dinner at restaurant San Toro

Wednesday, January 9, 2002. Migration and Development
8AM Meeting with French, American, and German organizations dealing with co-development in Mali

10:00AM Meeting with American and French officials to discuss the brain drain.

12PM Lunch with Mali leader who helps migrants returning from France to launch businesses in Mali

2PM Visit businesses begun by returned migrants

4PM Visit to French cultural center, discussion of North-South relations and migration

7PM Dinner at the residence of the French Ambassador

Thursday, January 10, 2002. Co-Development, Health
5:30AM Departure from the hotel to Bamako airport.

7AM Departure to Kayes, STA,

8:30AM Arrival in Kayes

9:30AM Departure for Kabate

10:15AM Arrive Kabate to visit projects and developed with the support and know-how of migrants returning from France (ORDIK et GRDR).

12PM Departure for Marena Dioumbougou

1PM Arrive Marena Dioumbougou for lunch and meeting and discussions about the local impact of migrants

4PM Departure for Sero

4:45PM Arrival in Sero, and meet with managers and beneficiaries of the local cooperative health clinic, a program developed in cooperation with Malians in France

6PM Departure for Kayes

7PM Dinner

Friday, January 11, 2002. Migrants, Remittances
8AM Departure for Somankidi by Jeep

9AM Arrive in Somankidi, an agricultural village created exclusively by migrants

12PM Return to Kayes,

1PM Lunch with local officials, including the mayor of Marena.

On Friday afternoon, the CEME group splits into two groups:

Group 1
4PM Departure for Senegal by Jeep.

8:30PM Arrival in Tambacounda (Senegal), overnight at hotel.

Saturday, January 12, 2002
8:30AM Departure for Dakar

1:00PM Lunch in Kaolack

6PM Arrival in Dakar

Group 2

7PM Dinner with local representative of NGO in Kayes

Saturday, January 12, 2002
8:3OAM Departure for Bamako, arrive 10AM.

Free day in Bamako.

7PM Departure for Bamako Airport. Visit with police authorities and discuss migration control at the airport.

11PM Departure for Paris.

Joaquin Arango, Fundacion Ortega y Gasset, Madrid

Philippe Barret, SOPEMI French Co-development Agency, Paris

Agustin Escobar, Ciesas Occidente, Guadalajara

Jason Leddington, Paris

Heike MacKerron, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Berlin

Susan Martin, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Philip Martin, University of California, Davis

Peter Schatzer, IOM International Organization for Migration, Geneva

Patrick Weil, University of Paris1 Sorbonne


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