As part of a United Nations effort to place sub-Saharan African nations on the investor map and allow them access to international capital markets, thus spurring development and reducing poverty, Mali - one of the world's poorest countries - has been given a sovereign credit rating.
The West African nation, the fifth to benefit from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) initiative in partnership with Standard & Poor's, the leading provider of independent credit ratings, was rated at "B" long-term and "B" short-term yesterday.
"The rating will increase the capacity of Mali to mobilize financing and allocate additional resources to poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals," UNDP Associate Administrator Zéphirin Diabré said, referring to the UN Millennium Summit's targets of cutting poverty, lack of health and education services and other ills in half by 2015.
Mali ranks 172nd out of 175 countries in the 2003 Human Development Report, due to its low per capita gross domestic product ($348), high level of illiteracy (65 per cent), high level of infant mortality (113.4 for 100,000 births), and limited access to sanitation (44 per cent), among other indicators.
Standard & Poor's reported the outlook on Mali as stable. This assumes the country will maintain its decade-long pursuit of sound economic policies and thus continue to enjoy strong donor support, including at an international resource mobilization gathering in Geneva next week.
It also assumes that fiscal stability and economic competitiveness will not be eroded by wage increases, which have outpaced inflation in recent years. In addition, official creditor support has most recently been demonstrated by Mali obtaining debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative.
The other countries to be rated so far under the UNDP initiative are Ghana, Cameroon, Benin and Burkina Faso. More sub-Saharan African countries are expected to be rated this year.