I made the argument a couple of days ago that urban wireless was a place where African companies were innovating quickly, citing Accra and Bamako as two areas where companies were providing service to many customers via wireless ISPs. Sociolingo, an excellent blogger in Bamako, weighs in with this story about wireless in Mali:
Hi, I’m writing this from my apartment in Bamako using my wifi connection. My landline telephone hasn’t been working for a week but in my neighbourhood I have a choice of three connections (two open and one closed – mine). One of the open ones is run by a Malian NGO in an apartment beneath me and is left open deliberately so others can use it. It’s great! A number of hotels are now running ‘wifi zones’ and for the cost of a soft drink you can hook your laptop up – cheaper than an internet cafe in Bamako. Sotelma has announced a new broadband service via the landlines, but given the instability of the phone connection (I can rarely have incoming international calls) and the cost (I heard 30,000FCFA a month, over £30) I doubt if it will really catch on.
Thanks for the update, Sociolingo.