In a Plan International report, Hannah Beardon outlines the general ICT policy and initiatives in Mali, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses. Mali is well below the African average in the areas of telephone lines, mobile subscribers, and internet users. Rural establishments are very dispersed, making penetration a daunting task. Lack of infrastructure in these areas, along with limited national and foreign investment make ICT development a challenge throughout the country. One thing Mali does seem to be making notable progress in, however, is child participation in ICTs. Plan’s child-oriented programs, Kids Waves and Youth Empowerment Through Arts and Media (YETAM), have become a central focus in national ICT policy.
Kids Waves is a weekly radio program that is broadcasted throughout the region. The entire show is put together and hosted by children, providing an avenue for expression and empowerment through media. Plan Mali is currently one of the big leaders with this program and has an additional radio animation training component. YETAM is a project that brings youth (12-18 yrs.) together to discuss local issues and then create art and media projects about them. This includes videos, websites, applications, and other forms of media. Such projects educate the communities on these issues and allow the children to participate in the development process. The YETAM program in Mali has proven to be very successful, and has identified and worked with problems such as forced marriage, female genital cutting, education quality, and water access. These projects are published on the project’s youtube channel for the world to see.