BY OGBONNAYA, Ufiem Maurice
For more than two and half decades, precisely between 1985 and 2011, Mali experienced rapid economic growth. For instance, between 1985 and 1994, Mali’s GDP grew at an average rate of 1.7 per cent; 5.8 per cent between 1995 and 2005 and at 4.9 per cent between 2007 and 2010, while annual GDP growth was 2.7 per cent in 2011.[ii] On the one hand, this economic growth was occasioned by a flourishing democracy and socio-political stability, which made the country “an acclaimed example of democratic process in the West African sub-region.”[iii] On the other hand, flourishing democracy, socio-political stability and the resultant economic growth in Mali were results of the successes in regional integration recorded within the West African sub-region by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Following decades of instability arising from a series of political upheavals, sporadic violent social conflicts and civil wars in West Africa, the emphasis in the sub-region shifted in the mid-1990s, from economic cooperation to peace-building and security cooperation. This was due to the realisation that there is a dialectical relationship among security, peace, political stability, and economic growth and that economic cooperation cannot be fostered on a conflict-ridden environment.[iv] However, the flourishing democracy, socio-political stability and economic growth experienced in Mali in particular and the success in regional integration recorded by ECOWAS within the sub-region in general, have come under threats by the resurgence of political conflicts and secessionist tendencies in Mali, military coup d’état in Burkina Faso and electoral violence in Gabon, among others.
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