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Mali

Basics Edit

Operators Edit

Two mobile providers are currently operating in Mali:

  • Orange (owned by French Orange Mali S.A.)
  • Malitel (operated by SOTELMA which is mostly owned by Maroc Telecom)
  • Telecel (by Alpha Telecom Mali, very limited coverage)

Meanwhile the Mali government presented a ‘note conceptuelle’ (concept note) regarding the issuance of the country’s 4th mobile license in 2017 setting out an operational timetable and a projected budget for a new concession. Plans for this new operator emerged, spurred by the slow progress of the 3rd licensee to break the duopoly of Orange and Malitel.

Frequencies and coverage Edit

2G is on 900 MHz and 3G in the cities on 2100 MHz up to HSPA+ and HSDPA at 42 Mbps. There is no official 4G/LTE yet, but there are trials and 4G/LTE is announced by Orange by 2018.

You can expect mobile coverage only in inhabited areas and 3G connections for data only in the capital and some regional centers so far.

Penetration and prices Edit

Mobile penetration peaked at 143% in 2014. Most locals have two SIM cards, also due to the lack of an efficient landline system. More than 99% of the SIM cards are prepaid. In 2016 penetration has fallen to 105%. This results from the implementation of new identification rules for subscribers, which came into force at the end of 2015.

Mali’s landlocked location makes it dependent on neighbouring countries for international fibre bandwidth, which has kept prices high. Improvements in this sector can be expected from the recent arrival of several new competitive international submarine fibre optic cables in the region and the construction of a terrestrial Trans-Saharan backbone network.

Registration Edit

Since 2015 all SIM card subscribers in the country have to be identified by their ID documents at the point of purchase. So better buy your SIM card showing your passport in an official store or outlet of the operator than on the streets, where you can still buy recharges at every corner.

Orange Mali Edit

Orange UK

Orange Mali owned by French Telecom is market leader in 2017 with 59% of the mobile customers in the country. The company was extremely successful when it entered the market as the 2nd mobile and fixed-line operator in 2003. They quickly amassed more than 80% market share, offering converged fixed, mobile and broadband internet services.

At the end of 2016, Orange Mali’s network covered about 95% of the population and 46% of the country and had a base of 11 million active mobile subscribers, of which more than 99% were prepaid customers. Their uses mainly cover voice, mobile internet and mobile payment services. Only around 20% of the population have 3G coverage with speeds up to 42 Mbps like in Bamako and other regional capitals: coverage map.

In 2017 Orange Mali renewed its license and received permission to launch 4G/LTE services. It already trials 4G/LTE in Bamako, that is to be expected to be comercially launched by 2018.

Like in most parts of Africa mobile networks double as a payment system. Started in 2010, Orange Money service had 3.5 million customers at the end of 2016.

Availability Edit

Orange prepaid SIM cards are available in stores called Agences (list of stores) for 1000 CFA. Be prepared to show your passport because of ID requirements. To get their new 4G/LTE you need to buy a new 4G-enabled SIM or swap an old Orange 3G SIM card for it. Their SIM card has 500 or 1000 CFA credit pre-loaded valid for 5 days only.

Recharges Edit

Recharges are sold everywhere on the streets in these denominations:

Recharge

Value

Validity Grace

Period

Bonus

Credit

Bonus

SMS

1000 CFA 7 days 14 days
2000 CFA 15 days 30 days 5 SMS
5000 CFA 30 days 60 days 500 CFA 5 SMS
10000 CFA 60 days 90 days 1500 CFA 5 SMS
25000 CFA 60 days 120 days 5000 CFA 5 SMS

If you do several recharges, validity of your credit will be according to the last top-up value. Within the grace period you will only be able to accept calls and SMS, but not place them.

To check credit type #123#, to top-up by voucher enter *123*<top-up code>#.

Data feature packages Edit

Their data packages are called Forfaits Internet and are valid for 2G, 3G and upcoming 4G/LTE for one month:

Data Price
10 MB 200 CFA
50 MB 1000 CFA
100 MB 1500 CFA
300 MB 3000 CFA
500 MB 4700 CFA
1 GB 7500 CFA
2 GB 13500 CFA

To activate a package type #101#21#, to check data balance or expiry #101#22#. Packages are cummulative.

Orange also offers a USB dongle called Clé 3G. Starting price for the modem and SIM card is 12,900 CFA. This can be added by the same data packages from above called Internet Everywhere by #101#212# or an 1 hour pack at 500 CFA.

They often offer promotions with double data on certain days that are frequently changing. For details check their Twitter or Facebook accounts (see below).

More info Edit

Malitel (SOTELMA) Edit

Malitel

Malitel operated by SOTELMA is the old state telecom provider and first mobile network in the country since 1989. It was privatized in 2009 and now owned: 50% by Maroc Telecom, 20% by local investors, 20% by the Mali government and 10% by staff.

In user numbers and coverage Malitel is in the 2nd position in Mali right now caring for about 41% of the mobile market as well as for a rather limited landline system.

Their 3G coverage is restricted to the towns of Bamako and Kati, Kayes, Koulikoro, Sikasso, Segou, Mopti and Kenieba, the mines of Loulou, Tabakoto, Gounkoto, Sadiola, Siama and Morila as well as Diboli on the border to Senegal. Outside these areas there is only coverage with GPRS at 54 Kbit/s. There is no 4G/LTE yet.

Malitel's mobile payment system is called Mobicash in competition to Orange Money. Their prepaid SIM cards are marketed as Waatibè.

Availability Edit

Waatibè prepaid SIM cards are sold at 1000 CFA or sometimes less in promotions in their outlets called Agences (list of stores). Be prepared to show your passport for ID in the store.

Recharges Edit

Recharges are sold everywhere on the streets in these denominations:

Recharge

Value

Validity Grace

Period

Bonus

Credit

200 CFA 15 days 15 days
500 CFA 15 days 15 days
1000 CFA 30 days 30 days
2000 CFA 30 days 30 days 200 CFA
5000 CFA 45 days 60 days 500 CFA
10000 CFA 60 days 90 days 1500 CFA
20000 CFA 60 days 120 days 5000 CFA

Within the grace period you will only be able to accept calls and SMS, but not place them.

To check balance type *101#, to top-up by voucher enter *102*<voucher code>#.

Data feature packages Edit

Their data packages are called 3G+ and are valid for 2G and 3G:

Data Validity Price Activation
10 MB 30 days 200 CFA *222*1111*200#
25 MB 30 days 500 CFA *222*1111*500#
55 MB 30 days 1000 CFA *222*1111*201#
200 MB 30 days 2000 CFA *222*1111*202#
500 MB 30 days 4700 CFA *222*1111*204#
1 GB 30 days 7500 CFA *222*1111*207#
2 GB 30 days 13 500 CFA *222*1111*213#
3 GB 30 days 20 000 CFA *222*1111*220#
5 GB 45 days 30 000 CFA *222*1111*230#
10 GB 45 days 50 000 CFA *222*1111*250#
20 GB 60 days 75 000 CFA *222*1111*275#

Activation is by USSD code. To check data balance enter *101#.

They also offer an USB dongle called Clé Internet Mobile+ with SIM card for 25,000 CFA that can be added by the same packages or at a 5 CFA per minute default rate.

Malitel often offers promotions that are frequently changing. For latest details check their Facebook or Twitter accounts (see below).

More info Edit

Telecel (by Alpha Telecom) Edit

Telecel-BF

In 2012 a 3rd license was issued to Alpha Telecom Mali, but commercial operations have not started until 2017 and the local counterpart has defaulted in the meantime. Finally, in October 2017 the network was launched in Bamako under the brand of Telecel and at year end 3G was added.

So far little is known about the provider. Coverage seems to be very limited to the captial. Check networks before buying a SIM card as it can't be recommended for travellers.

They still seem to be in the launch phase without any prices given. For latest updates check their Website or Facebook site.