It has been a tough year for Mali - from an ethnic Tuareg uprising, to a military coup and an Islamist insurgency that threatened to split the nation in half. But French and pan-African forces restored stability in time for the recent elections. Now, with voters set to go to the polls for a presidential run-off on August 11, Mali's $10.4bn economy could get a big boost from international donors, with $4bn of the promised aid dependent on peaceful elections.

But despite its recent troubles, the World Bank says the country's economy contracted by only 1.5 percent in 2012. That good fortune can largely be attributed to gold: Mali is Africa's third-largest producer and gold represents 80 percent of its export earnings.

And the country's economy may even expand by five percent this year, as many of the gold mines are based in its largely unaffected western region. There are currently seven mines operating there, featuring big players like AngloGold and Randgold Resources.

Mark Connelly, the chief executive of Papillon Resources in Australia, sheds more light on gold mining in Mali.

Also, what does the result of Zimbabwe's recent election mean for the country's economy?

Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF declared the win an endorsement for its plan for 'black economic empowerment' and promised to increase black ownership of the economy during its next five-year term, with 1,000 foreign-owned companies, including banks and mines, targeted.

Also on this episode: China has banned baby milk imports from New Zealand, leading to a rise in demand for products from other countries and, as Al Jazeera's Rob McBride reports, a flourishing trade in milk-smuggling from Hong Kong to the mainland.

And finally, Barack Obama says he has a new plan aimed at furthering the recovery of the country's housing market. But what will the proposed series of reforms for borrowers and lenders mean for American home owners and how dependent is a housing recovery on an improvement in the job market? The unemployment rate is slowly falling and jobs are being created, but are they the right kind of jobs and do they offer the "better bargain for the middle classes" that Obama says is needed?

Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630. Click here for more Counting the Cost.

Follow Kamahl Santamaria @KamahlAJE and business editor Abid Ali@abidoliverali

Source: Al Jazeera