Abu Dhabi delivers Dh1 billion to help troubled Mali

Money will help to support the country's balance of payments and fund new housing

Mali remains one of the least developed countries in the world and has been subject to Islamist violence and ethnic divisions since 2013. Debbie Egan-Chin / Getty Images
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Abu Dhabi has pledged Dh1 billion to help the Mali government make its balance of payments and help to finance a housing programme.

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, a foreign aid agency, struck two agreements on Monday aimed at accelerating the development of the West African country.

A Dh918 million loan will support the Malian government's social and economic plans, while an additional Dh110 million injection will finance the latest phase of a national social housing programme designed to meet a surge in demand.

The agreements were signed by Mali Prime Minister, Dr Boubou Cisse, and Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, director-general of ADFD at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi. Boukary Sidibe, Mali's ambassador to the UAE, joined diplomatic dignitaries in attendance.

Mali has been beset by violence and ethnic strife since 2013 when Islamist groups seized half of the country.

"Abu Dhabi Development" supports the government of Mali billion dirhams to achieve sustainable economic development. WAM

France, its former colonial ruler, intervened and pushed militants back into the Sahara desert.

But trouble between the Fulani and Dogon ethnic groups has decreased government control and Mali remains one of the world's least developed countries.

Mali's housing project involves the construction of 50,000 homes across the country's major cities.

As part of the long-running initiative, more than 9,500 residential units were built between 2002 and 2015.

Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi said the investment project was testament to the well-established friendship between the UAE and Mali.

"The UAE and Mali have continued to enjoy strong and long-standing bilateral relations," said Mr Al Suwaidi.

"Spanning more than four decades of joint and constructive co-operation, the strategic ties between ADFD and Mali have helped achieve sustainable economic development in the West African nation.

Dr Cisse, who was installed as prime minister in April, commended the brotherly relations Mali enjoys with the UAE and aid the latest round of financial aid would serve to strengthen the national economy.

In May, Dr Cisse met with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to sign The two agreements in economy, trade, defence and culture, as well as funding projects.

An economic, trade and technical agreement was signed by Sultan Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, and one in military co-operation was signed by Mohammed Al Bawardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs.

ADFD has provided vital backing for Mali since 1976, delivering hundreds of millions of dirhams worth of loans for a number of key projects in that time.