The road to Zantiebougou, nearly 200 kilometers south of Mali’s capital Bamako, is unpaved, difficult to navigate, and the only way in and out of the small village. The commute gets trickier at night when pitch black darkness descends on the area.
So most people head to Mamadou Diane’s bed and breakfast for a cold beer and food before retiring for the night in their own room, which has a fan, adequate light and provision to charge a cell phone, all powered by a mini-grid covering the village.
Diane, who was first introduced to solar panels in 1995, took a big leap of faith when she started selling them to her neighbors in the early 2000s, enticing them with the possibility of being able to watch the Africa Cup of Nations football games without interruption and in the comfort of their homes.
The risk paid off.
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Mali, also known as the “Fortune of Africa”, is a landlocked country in West Africa with investment opportunities in mineral exploration, telecommunications and computers, water resources development, livestock and other ago-industries, food processing, and the importation of vehicles and new and used clothing. Mali possess a mining sector with what is considered medium activity with gold being the leading export item representing 80% of the activity in this sector, the leading export item since 2002, ahead of cotton and livestock. Other minerals such as uranium, manganese, iron and diamonds are still underdeveloped and offer some potential for investors. Mali’s slow but steady economic development is seen as a sign that the Government’s continuous efforts in implementing judicial and economic reforms are paying off.
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