Nobody really believed it could work. Opening a media center at the Forum of the People, and
establishing an Internet connection with the rest of the world? It seemed like a pipe dream,
120 kilometers outside of Bamako, in an area where the rare cyber cafés struggle with low
bandwidth, selling their dubious connections to users at 1500 FCFA an hour. And yet, thanks to
the keen enthusiasm of Sebastian Alzerreca, a volunteer impassioned with-crazy about-new
technologies, the dream was able to become a reality.
Alzerreca built a partnership between, on side, a provider of satellite Internet access,
Géolink, and on the other side, an association that supports the promotion of information and
communication technologies in Africa, Africa Computing (www.africacomputing.org).
Thanks to this partnership, one room was set up with fifteen computers, all of which were
connected to the world via the Internet, to the joy of the journalists present at the Forum of
The giant satellite dish would have been the first thing to catch your eye; a white cable
emerged from it and disappeared into a back building. There was no other indication that forum
participants could follow this cable to access information online about G8-related events:
the official summit, counter-summits, demonstrations, and suppressions of
demonstrations. They could also use the connection to relay the message of the Forum of the
People to the outside world-they even participated in an online exchange (text and voice)
with Nouhoum Keita, director of communication for CAD Mali, who was in Edinburgh for the
European G8 counter-summit.
“This Internet center really facilitated the task for us,” says Assane Koné, journalist with
The Republican. “Without this installation, we would not have been able to report the news of
the Forum of the People before three or four days, when it risks being old news.” One thing is
certain: the center was never empty, open from the early morning until late in the night. This
fulfilled the hopes-and justified the investment-of Sebastian Alzerreca: “It’s
brilliant! Last year in Kita, information coming from the rest of the world was really limited
... This year, we can follow the events live, online; we almost have the feeling that we are
there, taking part.” And the Forum of the People made itself known beyond the borders of Mali;
it is no longer denied contact with the outside world.