Mali has many salt mines throughout the country. The country also plays a large roll in sub-Saharan trade because of its favorable position between West Africa and North Africa.
But how do you indirectly know about Mali? Timbuktu is in Mali. For some reason, I always heard about Timbuktu when I was smaller, but never knew where it exactly was – now I do.
What can you do in Mali? Bamako has many zoos and museums. Segou is known for its pottery, and Kayes has many waterfalls. The Great Mosque of Djenne is impressive to see. The Inner Niger Delta is just beautiful, and Zoo de Bamako is cool too. There is no reason to be bored in Mali.
What you should not do is roaming with your provider in Mali. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy a local SIM card when traveling around, even in Mali.
The internet may be considered to be slightly expensive for African standards. At least, that is based on me analyzing the SIM cards and data packages of all African countries.
The reason why mobile data in Mali is slightly more expensive compared to the rest of Africa is because the country is landlocked and does not have direct access to submarine cables. However, compared to the world average, mobile data is affordable in Mali, so you should take advantage of that.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Mali. Let’s get started.
Telecom Providers in Mali
There are 3 telecom operators in Mali: Orange Mali, Malitel, and Telecel. All operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks.
The Malian government issued a license to Algeria Telecom, with their mobile brand called Mobilis, to enter the Malian market in December 2019. In the coming year(s), Mali will have 4 operators.
Best SIM Card in Mali
If you want to buy a SIM card in Mali, I would recommend going with Orange because they have the best speeds and coverage throughout Mali.
Like most countries in West Africa, and Africa in general, you have to register yourself when buying a SIM card in Mali.
There is not more to say about Mali, so let's see what they have to offer to us.
Orange Mali, just Orange, is the largest operator in Mali. They also have the best coverage and speeds throughout the country.
Orange SIM cards are sold for 1000 XOF ($1.65), which comes with at least 500 XOF in credit. Be sure to ask for their 4G/LTE SIM card if you plan on using their 4G/LTE network. Recharge cards are sold from 1000 XOF to 25 000. To top-up, dial *123*VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would have to dial *123*123456#. Dial #123# to check your Orange balance.
Orange has different types of packages that include data, which are:
- Orange Séwa
- Orange Forfaits prépayés non S'cool
- Orange Forfaits Internet Mobile
- Orange Forfaits Data Nuit
- Orange Internet Everywhere
Let's go through each of them.
Séwa is a combi plan that comes with data, minutes, and SMS, which can last up to 7 days. The following 8 Séwa plans are available, which can be activated by dialing #101#63#:
- 250 XOF: 10 MB, 5 minutes, and 10 SMS for 1 day
- 490 XOF: 50 MB, 15 minutes, and 50 SMS for 3 days
- 500 XOF: 50 MB, 20 minutes, and 50 SMS for 2 days
- 790 XOF: 60 MB, 25 minutes, and 60 SMS for 4 days
- 970 XOF: 80 MB, 40 minutes, and 80 SMS for 5 days
- 1320 XOF: 100 MB, 55 minutes, and 100 SMS for 6 days
- 1890 XOF: 150 MB, 90 minutes, and unlimited SMS for 7 days
- 5000 XOF: 250 MB, 240 minutes, and unlimited SMS for 7 days
Orange Forfaits prépayés non S'cool
Forfaits prépayés non S'cool is another combo plan of Orange. However, these plans start from 9900 XOF, with a minimum amount of data – 100 MB, to 50 000 XOF, for 1 GB, which is why I do not recommend this plan. If you need 1 GB or more, consider one of the data-only plans mentioned below. If you, however, want to learn more, head over to this page.
Orange Forfaits Internet Mobile
The Forfaits Internet Mobile plans are basic data-only plans. They come in daily, weekly, and monthly variants. All these plans can be activated by dialing #101#211# and dial #101#22 to check your data balance.
Although these plans are called daily plans (jour means day), some plans are valid for 4 days.
- 100 XOF: 30 MB for 1 day
- 100 XOF: 20 MB for 4 days
- 250 XOF: 100 MB for 1 day
- 250 XOF: 50 MB for 4 days
- 1000 XOF: 1 GB for 1 day
The following 3 weekly bundles are available:
- 500 XOF: 300 MB
- 1000 XOF: 750 MB
- 2000 XOF: 2 GB
The following 3 monthly bundles are available:
- 2000 XOF: 1.5 GB
- 5000 XOF: 5 GB
- 10 000 XOF: 15 GB
Orange Forfaits Data Nuit
Are you active at night, specifically between 11 PM and 7 AM? Then these 4 night bundles may be interesting. They can be activated by dialing #101#213#, and you can check your data balance by dialing #101#22#:
- 500 XOF: 600 MB for 1 night
- 900 XOF: 1.2 GB for 1 night
- 1400 XOF: 2.5 GB for 1 night
- 2000 XOF: 4 GB for 1 night
Orange Internet Everywhere
Internet Everywhere is another of Orange's data-only plans. What is the difference between Forfaits Internet Mobile and Internet Everywhere? The data allowances. The packages are the same, in terms of the same prices and the same number of packages for a day, 4 days, 7 days, and 30 days.
The data allowance for Internet Everywhere is at least 20 MB to 5 GB less than Forfaits Internet Mobile in all categories. I have no idea why these plans are still offered. For more info, head over to this page.
Malitel used to be the main and only competitor of Orange until Telecel entered the market. Even then, Malitel has a solid market share. Do note that their 3G and 4G/LTE network is not as extensive as the one of Orange. These are the areas where 3G is available, according to Malitel:
- Bamako et Kati
- Diboli (Bamako-Senegal border)
- Gounkoto mine
- Kayes Ville
- Koulikoro ville
- Loulou mine
- Mopti ville
- Morila min
- Sadiola mine
- Segou ville
- Siama mine
- Sikasso ville
- Tabakoto mine
3G is, as per Malitel, restricted in the following areas:
- Banbara Maoudé
Malitel SIM cards are called Waatibe and sold for 500 XOF. Top-up cards are sold from 200 XOF to 20 000. To top-up, dial *102*VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would have to dial *102*123456#. Dial #101# to check your Malitel balance.
Mali has many types of plans. Only a handful of them come with data, which are:
- Malitel Forfaits Douman
- Malitel Grati+
- Malitel Damou
- Malitel 3G+
- Malitel Forfait Data Nuit
First, I will start with the combo plans (the first 3). Then the data-only plans will be listed (the last 2).
Malitel Forfaits Douman
Forfaits Douman packs are monthly combo plans that come with unlimited minutes and SMS to a phone number of choice between selected hours or all day. The following three Forfaits Douman plans are available:
- 9000 XOF: 120 MB, 9000 XOF credit for local calls, 2000 XOF bonus credit for on-net calls, and unlimited minutes and SMS for 1 favorite number between 8 AM and 6 PM (not on Wednesdays). Activation: dial *222*1111*441#
- 19 000 XOF: 300 MB, 19 000 XOF credit for local calls, 4500 XOF bonus credit for on-net calls, and unlimited minutes and SMS for 1 favorite number between 8 PM and 8 AM. Activation: dial *222*1111*442#
- 39 000 XOF: 1 GB, 39 000 XOF credit for local calls, 10 000 XOF bonus credit for on-net calls, and unlimited minutes and SMS for 1 favorite number. Activation: dial *222*1111*443#
Worry not, it becomes cheaper after this.
Grati+ plans are another form of combo plans that are valid for up to 3 days. All these plans can be activated with a Grati+ card. Then, dial 102*VoucherCode*1#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would have to dial *102*123456*1#. The following 3 Grati+ plans are available:
- 200 XOF: 20 MB, 10 on-net minutes, and 20 on-net SMS for 1 day
- 500 XOF: 50 MB, 25 on-net minutes, and 50 on-net SMS for 2 days
- 1000 XOF: 100 MB, 60 local minutes, and 100 local SMS for 3 days
Damou is another type of combo plan. On Mondays, you can get bonuses. The following 6 Damou plans can be purchased
- 250 XOF: 20 MB, 5 minutes, and 10 SMS for 1 day. Activation: dial #555#2#1#1#
- 490 XOF: 100 MB, 20 minutes, and 50 SMS for 3 days. Activation: dial #555#2#1#2#
- 790 XOF: 120 MB, 30 minutes, and 60 SMS for 4 days. Activation: dial #555#2#1#3#
- 970 XOF: 160 MB, 40 minutes, and 80 SMS for 5 days. Activation: dial #555#2#1#4#
- 1320 XOF: 200 MB, 60 minutes, and 100 SMS for 6 days. Activation: dial #555#2#1#5#
- 1890 XOF: 300 MB, 90 minutes, and unlimited SMS for 7 days. Activation: dial #555#2#1#6#
As the name implies, these are data-only SIM cards that work on Malitel's 3G network. You have 7 plans to choose from:
- 200 XOF: 10 MB for 30 days. Activation: dial *222*1111*200#
- 500 XOF: 25 MB for 30 days. Activation: dial *222*1111*500#
- 1000 XOF: 55 MB for 30 days. Activation: dial *222*1111*201#
- 2000 XOF: 200 MB for 30 days. Activation: dial *222*1111*202#
- 4700 XOF: 500 MB for 45 days. Activation: dial *222*1111*204#
- 7500 XOF: 1 GB for 60 days. Activation: dial *222*1111*207#
- 13 500 XOF: 2 GB for 60 days. Activation: dial *222*1111*213#
- 20 000 XOF: 3 GB for 60 days. Activation: dial *222*1111*220#
- 30 000 XOF: 5 GB for 60 days. Activation: dial *222*1111*230#
- 50 000 XOF: 10 GB for 60 days. Activation: dial *222*1111*250#
- 75 000 XOF: 20 GB for 60 days. Activation: dial *222*1111*275#
Malitel Forfait Data Nuit
Those who are active between 11 PM and 7 AM can take advantage of Malitel's night plans:
- 500 XOF: 1 GB. Activation: dial #555#3#2#1#
- 900 XOF: 2 GB. Activation: dial #555#3#2#2#
- 1400 XOF: 3.5 GB. Activation: dial #555#3#2#3#
- 200 XOF: 6 GB. Activation: dial #555#3#2#4#
Telecel, by Alpha Telecom, is the newest player in Mali. Although they received their license back in 2012, it took until 2017 for them to get started, and the first phase of their network deployment was completed in 2018. Since then, Telecel was able to accept customers.
The issue is that their coverage is still limited to Southern Mali, with places like Kati, Segou, Sikasso, and Kayes being covered. Northern Mali will be covered soon, so Telecel may not be useful for those going on adventures.
Telecel SIM cards are called Fiyen Douman and are sold for 500 XOF.
There are 4 data packs to choose from:
- 100 XOF: 10 MB for 30 days. Activation: dial *550*10#
- 500 XOF: 100 MB for 30 days. Activation: dial *550*100#
- 2500 XOF: 1 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial *550*1000#
- 9000 XOF: 5 GB for 60 days. Activation: dial *550*5000#
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Mali
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Mali
Getting a SIM card from Orange would do you well when considering a Malian SIM card.
Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other African Countries
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