USAID has invested more than FCFA1 billion in an intranet project to connect 10 University sites in Bamako but thus far with few results, writes Assetou Diarra of Mali NTIC.The objective of creating the Intranet was to link teachers and students and to facilitate communications within the different campuses and the rest of world.

According to Check Oumar Sagara who was principal administrator for the University Intranet between 2003 and April of this year, it is one of the largest networks of this sort in West Africa and the implementation of these networks is never easy. Since its inception in 2000, the University Intranet has not worked in the way envisaged and some University sites are simply not working at all.

According to the former Administrator Sagara the project has been dogged by the lack of skilled staff with the necessary technical skills. However, there have also been financial problems. Despite the University’s Council voting to pay for the required equipment, it was not subsequently paid for by administrators in a timely way. Often payments were delayed by up to a year before made and as Sagara told Mali NTIC “this rather discouraged work on the project.”

Technical problems have been brought about by the use of the free 2.4 ghz wavelength that has been subject to interference on some of the sites. The only solution was to replace the equipment with other equipment that operated on another wavelength, a transition that was supported by Geek Corps. There have also been problems caused by power outages.

None of the equipment delivered since April 2006 has yet been installed. When Sagara was asked, when will the Intranet be fully ready?, Sagara suggested we ask the new Network Administrator Coulibaly Demba.