Magazine article UN Chronicle

Mali's Centres of Information

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Mali's Centres of Information

Article excerpt

Speaking at the High-Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council, Alpha Oumar Konare, President of Mali, said that Africans understood that information and communication technologies were a condition for freedom in the modern world. He stressed that the Internet was an unprecedented revolution that allowed the continent to be present without an intermediary. In his own country, President Konare has promoted Internet use since taking office in 1993, particularly through private-sector development. He works together with UN agencies and other organizations to reduce a host of barriers to open connectivity.

By early 1998, Mali had four private-sector Internet service providers serving about 1,000 accounts--and the number is growing daily. Mali is working hard to provide Internet service in rural areas. However, as a developing country, it faces a number of challenging problems: an unreliable telephone system, low literacy, exorbitant costs for telephone calls, customs duties on computers, and a relative lack of equipment and trained technical staff in the schools. Primary education still only reaches 50% of Mali's children at the primary-school level and is even less for girls (40%), while literacy is only 27% and much less for women (15%).

One project that aims to overcome the lack of information and communication facilities in the 701 communes is the setting-up of telecentres, which are of a pilot character for Africa.

A project of the International Telecommunication Union, together with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the national organization Sotelma (Societe des Telecommunications du Mali), the first multi-purpose community centre--Telecentre Communautaire Polyvalent TCP--was established in December 1998. …

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