Cyber cafés catering mainly to students and young people are proliferating around Bamako, Mali’s capital, showing the growing importance of information and communications technology (ICT) in the landlocked West African country. However, most Malians have yet to join the digital age. To make the Internet and other digital tools available to all sectors of society, the Government is formulating and implementing a national ICT strategy. Japan is providing US$90,000 for the initiative and UNDP is assisting the Ministry of Communication and New Information Technologies in carrying it out. The aim is to develop an ICT infrastructure and use the new technologies to modernize public administration, making it easier for as many citizens as possible to access services and participate in civic activities. The strategy will also encourage cooperation on ICT with other countries in the region. Endorsing the initiative, President Amadou Toumani Touré called information and communications technology an important aspect of the Government’s modernization policies. The Government is focusing on ICT applications relevant to sectors such as health, education, business, farm and pastoral communities, culture, public administration and decentralization, he noted. The Government will also take up the challenge of enabling the whole society to use these new technologies at costs that are affordable for the largest sectors of the population. UNDP Resident Representative Jocelline Bazile-Finley said: Promotion of ICT, which will help strengthen development and participation, will be facilitated by a partnership between the public and private sectors.
During the first year, the main effort will go towards preparing the strategy and plan of action, as well as holding workshops and meetings around the country to ensure that they fit the needs of the institutions involved.The initiative will set up a forum for the main participants —including the public and private sectors, civil society and donors— to exchange information and ideas and formulate a medium-term programme to support ICT development. Feasibility studies will also be carried out on setting up an intranet for the Government linked to local governments.
Mahamadou Coulibaly, UNDP Mali,
Nicholas Gouede, UNDP cmmunications Office