Mali, a large, landlocked, multicultural country in West Africa, consistently ranks low in the Human Development Index. The infrastructure of Communications in Mali, while underdeveloped, is crucial to the nation.
Prior to the 19th century, the area which became Mali was criscrossed by trade and communication links, the most important being the Niger River, and important southern terminals of the Trans-Saharan trade routes. Only the most basic infrastructure (notably the Dakar-Niger Railway) was constructed during the period of French Colonialism. During the first two decades of independence, Mali received major technical and financial support from the former Soviet Union, China, and their allies, especially in the area of radio and television broadcasting. Since the 1980s, the government has instituted major infrastructural drives, primarily funded by European government partners, to improve and expand communications. Cellular phone usage, due to the vast and sparsely populated distances in the north and west, has grown tremenously since the 1990s. Internet connectivity, very low by developed world standards, has been the focus of decentralised commune based development projects since the year 2000, while the government participates in the UN's Global Alliance for ICT and Development and the Connect Africa projects to further computer and internet availability in the country.
There are some 75,000 (2005)  fixed line telephone lines in Mali, far outstripped by 869,600 (2005) mobile cellular phone lines.
There are two major mobile telephone operators, Ikatel (a subsidiary of Sonatel, of Senegal) and Malitel (a subsidiary of SOTELMA, the state owned telecommunications company).
In June 2003, legislation passed allowing other private telecommunications operators to enter the market.
Telephone system: domestic system unreliable but improving; provides only minimal service
domestic: network consists of microwave radio relay, open wire, and radiotelephone communications stations; expansion of microwave radio relay in progress
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean)
Radio and television
Radio broadcast stations: Government funded: AM 1, shortwave 1.
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