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Mali lags behind as African internet speeds rise



By Laura Angela Bagnetto, Throughout Bamako, Mali, internet office spaces sit idle. Customers can plug in their computers, make phone calls, and take advantage of the solar-powered electricity that’s not subject to blackouts, a common occurrence in the capital. The one thing they can’t do, however, is check their email.

When making comparisons to other landlocked countries in West Africa, Mali still falls behind. On the Jokkolabs Bamako website, Bamako entrepreneur Gaudin makes the price comparison that shows it is only ahead of Niger and Guinea.

“The real problem in Africa, or the challenge, is getting all the bandwidth that is available in to the country. There are a lot of structural problems building out the network, etc, and there is a lot of cost involved in upgrading your network,” says analyst Christian.

The difference in service between landlocked countries and countries that line the coast of West Africa is disparate.

In 2010, two sea cables, Glow and Main One were constructed along the west coast, from Europe to Nigeria, says Christian. “This started to add some international balance to the area, but the more important cables were ACE, Africa Connect Europe, and WACS, West Africa Cable System.”

By 2013, a lot of international bandwidth was available, but it remained on the coast. “The difficult part is actually getting this bandwidth back, even within the coastal countries, but also into the centre of the landlocked countries,” he says.

Oddly enough, last November, the government announced that it wanted to make Bamako a sub-regional IT hub. As a workaround, these internet entrepreneurs are forced to daisy chain mobile phones together, gathering the data connection from several devices, enabling them to provide a semblance of internet.

Internet customers are paying for speeds that are incapable of downloading a youtube video, all for the price of 36,000 CFA (55 euros) per month. According to the US State Department, the average wage for a semi-skilled worker in Mali is 40,000 CFA (61 euros) per month. Source RFI


James Barnley

I’m the editor of the DomainingAfrica. I write about internet and social media, focusing mainly on Domains. As a subscriber to my newsletter, you’ll get a lot of information on Domain Issues, ICANN, new gtld’s, Mobile technology and social media.

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