The Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) has extended an oil import loan to the state of Mali.

The US$24mn loan will be used to import heavy fuel oil to support the landlocked Sahel nation’s manufacturing, agricultural and services industries. The oil will be used exclusively by Énergie du Mali, the national utility.

Petroleum and oil products comprised 31% of Mali’s total imports in 2010. Senegal, Benin and Togo were its biggest trading partners, with 81% of Benin’s exports to Mali (which comprised 15% of total imports) coming in the form of petroleum oils.

CEO Dr Waleed Al-Wohaib confirms to GTR that the majority of the import will come from neighbouring countries, with Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal earmarked to make the export.

Along with energy products, the ITFC is planning to assist Mali with the import of necessary foodstuffs and agri-products, Al-Wohaib tells GTR. Other areas of focus, he says, “will focus on three directions: Islamic structured trade financing, diversification and private sector penetration”.

Mali’s economy contracted by 1.2% in 2012 – the first time it had done so since 1995. The disappointing return was blamed on the coup d’état staged by mutinying Malian soldiers in 2012, which led to the intervention of French troops.

On a trip to Mali this month (January 2014), however, IMF chief Christine Lagarde predicted healthy growth of 6% for this year, with a semblance of stability having returned to the country.