In this day in age, on-line banking and on-line bill payments have become the normal way of taking care of personal finances. Mali is still a cash based society and these types of services are non-existent here. In fact, something as simple as paying our utility bills is a very time consuming and involved process. It is not possible to pay on-line or even send a check in the mail! We must visit the electric company in person and wait in line for often times 45 minutes to an hour to pay our bill in cash. If there’s a problem with the bill, things become even more complicated. This month our bill was three times what it should have been. There were unexplained charges for several hundred dollars. In Mali, relationships mean everything and normally the only way to resolve a problem is through knowing someone in the company to fix it for you. Thankfully, we were able to find a friend of a friend to act as our advocate with the power company. He spent several hours negotiating with several people until he was finally able to resolve things. It turns out the charges were someone skimming money from our bill for their personal gain. Unfortunately, in Mali, corruption is very high and this type of activity is not uncommon.
So next time you pay your electric bill, be thankful for how easy and fair the process is.