ICT (Information and Communication Technology) has proved valuable to a society like Mali’s that wants to share information, communicate with the diaspora and engage in domestic and international trade to promote local development. In addition, ICT is a strategic tool for citizen participation that contributes much to economic and social development in Mali.

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Landscape of the Kayes region, Mali, on the border with Senegal (© Wikimedia Commons, by Bourichon, 2002)

With this in mind, the organisation Grdr Migration - Citizenship - Development, with the support of Enabel’s Wehubit programme, promotes the political participation and active citizenship of women and young people through digital technology in the Kayes region of Mali. Creating connected spaces for the public is one of the priorities of their project, ‘ICT for Digital Participation of Women and Youth in Local Governance and Planning’. 

24-year-old Fatoumata Bathily manages the connected space of Nioro since 1 January 2019.  

Located in the northwest of Bamako, this connected space offers learning, sharing, communication and guidance and attracts all development actors of Nioro, especially young girls and boys. It allows these young people as well as elected officials and managers and heads of services to share ideas about local governance and especially on the role of ICT in good governance, to receive advice, to access the internet, to access ICT (Word, Excel, Access...) and office (layout, photocopying, printing...) training. 

‘The connected space of Nioro is a chance for me to deepen and put into practice my governance and digital knowledge’, rejoices Fatoumata, whose first job this is. 

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Fatoumata Bathily, Manager of Nioro's connected space, trains a young practitioner in IT

The creation of the connected space of Nioro was welcomed by the local population and people in surrounding communities have expressed the desire to see such connected spaces set up, especially women who do not want to travel far, high school students who want better access to computers and better learning conditions and young adolescent girls who want to become digital savvy and learn about rights.  

‘In addition to being training and meeting places, connected spaces engage young people in the construction of citizen projects for the future, hence this notion of sharing that is central to our approach’, explains Mariame Doukouré, the Coordinator of Grdr in Mali. 

Two other connected spaces have been created in the region (in Yélimané and Kayes ville). They have already enabled more than 1400 young people and women to interact with national actors, to provide training and support in citizen participation and to engage in society debates, including those on new information and communication technologies.