Home ImpactBlog #CountryStory Mali

#CountryStory Mali

Katharina S.
November 08, 2023


Mali, located in the heart of West Africa, is host to a vibrant culture, historical significance and stunning landscapes, but is also plagued by economic problems and structural difficulties.

Mali has a very special significance for us; it is the birthplace of the Africa GreenTec idea and the country of our very first pilot project. Despite the current tense situation in the country, our connection to Mali remains constant and our projects continue to operate.


A Glimpse into Mali's History

Mali boasts a fascinating history, with some of the earliest evidence of human civilization found within its borders. The ancient city of Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was once a renowned center of learning and trade in the region. Its libraries and universities attracted scholars from across Africa and the Arab world, making it a pivotal hub of intellectual and cultural exchange. The Djinguereber Mosque, constructed in the 14th century, stands as a testament to the city's architectural grandeur and Islamic heritage.

Diverse Cultural Traditions

Mali is a multi-ethnic country, home to a large number of ethnic groups. More than 15 different languages are spoken, each of which is broken down into different variants and dialects. The official language is French, although it is not widely spoken among the rural population. The lingua franca is Bambara, which is spoken by about 60–80 % of the population.


Each ethnic group has their own unique traditions, languages, and customs. The Bambara, Dogon, Tuareg, and Fulani are just a few of the vibrant communities that contribute to Mali's cultural fabric. The Bambara are the largest ethnic group in Mali, accounting for 35 % of the population. However, one should not think of Mali's various ethnic groups as strictly separate societies: Overlapping habitats and constant cultural exchange are the rule.

Islam is the dominant religion in Mali, with the majority of the population adhering to the Sunni branch of Islam. It was introduced to the region in the 9th century, primarily through the efforts of Arab and Berber traders and scholars.

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The Main Pillar of the Economy – Agriculture

Due to the special geographic location on the Sahara, special climatic conditions prevail. Characterized by long periods of drought and infrequent heavy rainfall, which cannot be absorbed by the dry and hard soil, agriculture is difficult. Due to non-existent or unreliable, expensive water pumps, rain-fed agriculture is often the only option. This is a form of agriculture in which the water for the crops is provided by the rainfall and no additional artificial irrigation is used.


As a result, farmers are forced to move every 2 years to avoid overuse of the soil. This is usually not possible for financial reasons and lack of food, so after a few years of use, the field becomes 'dead'. Thus, the usable land is not only subjected to severe circumstances, but also becomes smaller and smaller. In addition, according to FAO, about 40 percent of fruit and vegetable harvests spoil because people lack the possibility of refrigeration.

As the climate crisis continues, so does desertification. Desertification describes the spread of the desert, which particularly affects farmers in Mali (about 62% of the population is active in agriculture).

Due to a lack of infrastructure and resources, Mali is ranked 186 out of 191 on the Human Development Index in 2022, according to the BMZ.

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The Current Situation of Mali

Mali is a beautifully diverse country full of possibilities for a better future, one must not ignore the problems. Especially politically the situation is getting worse and worse in the last few years.

Since the 1960s, there have been repeated rebellions by the Tuareg people, wandering settlers in the country. But in 2012, the Tuareg invaded Mali armed to enforce Sharia law. Other armed groups also invaded the country over time. The United Nations, or UN, has been trying to help the people of Mali since 2012. German soldiers are also there to support them. However, the Malian government refuses to accept the help of the UN.


Africa GreenTec and Mali

Mali faces significant energy challenges. Over 60 % of its population resides in rural areas, where access to electricity is scarce or non-existent. Dependence on expensive and polluting energy sources, such as diesel generators and kerosene lamps, hindered development and perpetuated a cycle of energy poverty.

Mali, the country of origin of our founder Aida Schreiber, was the first country where we were active and where our own history started: The idea of Africa GreenTec was born in Mali in June 2014, when Aida and Torsten Schreiber were invited by the Malian president to look at the country's energy supply. After visiting a 20 megawatt diesel power plant in the capital Bamako, their lives changed. The visited power plant was built back in the 1960s and, together with two other diesel power plants, is responsible for controlling the base load in Mali's metropolis of millions. It burns 170,000 liters of diesel every day with an efficiency of just over ten percent under an outside temperature of 45 °C in the shade. All of this in a country with an average of 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. The diesel has to be delivered daily by 10 trailer trucks on a broken road 1,500 kilometers from the Senegalese port of Dakar.

This experience laid the foundation for Africa GreenTec and the dream of empowering people through sustainable energy solutions, such as solar energy.

In 2016, we installed the world's first Solartainer in Mourdiah, Mali. Since then, a lot has happened: In the next few years, 19 more electrification projects have been added in Mali. At those ImpactSites we want to extend our services with our ImpactProducts such as the Cooltainer, Watertainer and PumpUPs to increase our impact and support to the communities.