If you live in or plan to travel to and through Mali, you should definitely read this VPN review!
Mali’s internet is notoriously slow and tightly controlled.
To protect your privacy, surf safely, and circumvent censorship, we have rated the best VPNs to use while in Mali.
The Best VPN Service for Mali
Of all the options available, ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN service providers.
ExpressVPN currently has server locations in more countries than any other provider.
ExpressVPN is one of the costlier options due to its vast amount of features available to its users.
ExpressVPN boasts services in most countries, and they are looking to add more all the time.
You can switch servers at any time.
Your security is guaranteed with 256-AES encryption, the same encryption level used by most government agencies.
Most service providers log your data to better their services; this data could be sold and your anonymity sacrificed, however, ExpressVPN assures its users that they do not log your activity or connections.
If you are struggling with any of the features, you can turn to their 24/7 customer support through live chat or email.
While your connection speed automatically dips when you use a VPN, although never enough to be noticeable, ExpressVPN promises never to throttle your speed or data usage and provides unlimited bandwidth.
If security is your main concern, rest assured that ExpressVPN provides a kill switch, which prevents your access from accidental exposure to security risks if your connection is lost.
Last but not least, ExpressVPN has split tunneling, which means that you can access both local and foreign locations at the same time.
ExpressVPN promises users:
If you are an advanced user or need a full range of features, this might be the service for you.
But what do you lose?
With ExpressVPN, you pay more than most other service providers charge.
You don’t have access to live phone support, and although it works well for more advanced users, you lose some of the customizations that other VPNs provide.
2. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN, based in Bucharest, Romania, wants to create an uncensored internet culture.
To do so, they focus on anonymity and promote civil rights for web surfers around the world.
CyberGhost wants you to surf the web without exposing your identity. To keep you safe and help you beat web blocks, this VPN focuses on speed, privacy, and security.
This service is more affordable than ExpressVPN, though you sacrifice some of the features.
CyberGhost wants you to surf the web without exposing your identity.
To keep you safe and help you beat web blocks, this VPN focuses on speed, privacy, and security.
This service is more affordable than ExpressVPN, though you sacrifice some of the features.
CyberGhost promises users:
CyberGhost masks your IP by using one of their own; this way, your identity is protected and the websites you browse cannot track your identity.
CyberGhost continues to use the most up-to-date encryption out there to keep you safe.
If you are using public WiFi, like at one of those internet cafes in Mali, CyberGhost protects you so that your activity can’t be monitored and your credit card information stays out of the hands of hackers.
CyberGhost promises never to log your data, upholding its anti-activity tracking mission.
Specifically, they promise no activity logging.
This implies that connection logs might be kept, though this concern only affects users that desire an extra level of privacy.
While ExpressVPN limits the number of devices you can connect, CyberGhost allows you to connect up to 7 devices at once. This should help keep you surfing safely across all your devices, whether you connect from your phone, laptop, or tablet.
On the downside, like ExpressVPN, there is no voice support if you need customer service.
They do offer 24/7 chat support, so the lack of live phone support should only impact users with advanced technical needs. To make up for it, they provide a pretty large knowledge base to keep you informed.
Finally, you might find that CyberGhost has a limited range of servers. This limitation will only effect traveling users or users who wish to use multiple servers.
Free VPN Providers for Mali
TunnelBear is one of the only providers with a free option that promises zero logging and attempts to prevent DNS leaks.
TunnelBear focuses on simplicity and is a great option for users who are new to using VPNs.
With a quick setup and a free option, this VPN might work well for someone who needs only minimal support for secure surfing.
Their starter option provides up to 500MB of usage free per month, although they only provide tunnels to approximately 20 countries.
As mentioned above, TunnelBear offers a simple interface. They purposefully eschew many of the fancy features that other VPN service providers pride themselves on.
If you want something easy to use because you are new to VPNs or only need a basic level of security, this might be your best option.
TunnelBear has a clever and playful interface with bear-themed features. VigilantBear is a vigilant mode option that provides additional security in case of interrupted access.
In the case of lost access, VigilantBear prevents unsecured connections. Once your connection has stabilized, you can continue to surf as normal.
GhostBear masks your IP address to help limit detection efforts. This feature does not work on iOS devices and does not need to be used if you have already connected through TunnelBear using normal methods.
GhostBear should be used if you have an unstable connection to prevent efforts to throttle your connection.
The Closest Tunnel option enables automatic connection to the nearest server.
This feature might be especially useful if you are traveling, as you will not need to determine which server location might best suit your needs.
On the downside, TunnelBear only provides VPN access via 20 countries. TunnelBear provides servers in the least amount of countries among your VPN options, so this option may not be your best bet if you are looking for widespread access points.
Like most VPNs, TunnelBear ensures you receive top-notch privacy support when you connect through WiFi.
You have the ability to connect up to 5 devices at one time while using TunnelBear.
TunnelBear, unlike other VPN service providers that offer free access, promises not to log your activity.
This promise means that TunnelBear won’t collect and sell your data the way that some other service providers might.
With TunnelBear, your free option really is free.
If you like using TunnelBear, you also have the ability to upgrade for unrestricted secure browsing.
The free option limits you to 500mb per month, which for many users, can be used up quickly.
With TunnelBear, you sacrifice the ability for customization and a variety of features, but you have a simple, easy tool that accomplishes basic internet security.
If you choose to pay for TunnelBear, any of the paid packages include unlimited data.
You do not lose any features or speed by choosing the free version of the software, although you might run into the upper limit of your surfing allowance quite quickly.
The biggest benefit of using ProtonVPN is that they allow you free, unlimited usage. They can provide their service for free because they subsidize the cost through their paid providers. They are very upfront that you lose many of the best features they provide to paid members, but if you need something free for minimal usage, this might be your best bet.
The cons for the free version of ProtonVPN are pretty big for anyone accustomed to using a VPN: you can only connect 1 device and speeds are too slow for P2P.
If you need a free option for minimal needs, like surfing the web anonymously on one device at a time, ProtonVPN might work best for you. The free version will work best for novice users with simple needs. If you are an advanced VPN user with a desire to customize your experience, you will need to upgrade or look elsewhere.
Like TunnelBear, ProtonVPN provides a simple, easy-to-use interface that does the job. Unlike TunnelBear, you are not capped at a specific point (500mb), so you do not run the risk of losing your protection halfway through the month—but you will be limited by its decreased speeds.
ProtonVPN does not log your activity nor do they attempt to collect and sell your information to third parties, so you can use this service and know your privacy is safe.
If you enjoy this basic service, the company transparently urges you to upgrade to a paid option, which allows you to access more than one country on more than one device.
With ProtonVPN, you also have the option of downloading ProtonMail, their first provided application.
Together, these applications allow you to travel the internet and communicate freely with fellow travelers.
If you upgrade to their highest package, you gain access to all countries, the ability to connect up to 10 devices, the highest speed available, exclusive servers, a secure routing core, Tor servers, and ProtonMail.
You also gain the goodwill that comes from providing free services for those in need.
What is a VPN and Why Do I Need One in Mali?
A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. Originally, VPNs were used by business professionals who needed to access their work networks from home.
To do this, a VPN creates a type of tunnel between the two locations.
This tunnel creates a secure internet connection. Users realized that using a VPN meant you could browse the web securely and anonymously. And today, VPNs are commonly used for anonymous browsing, circumventing censorship created through website blocks, and forgoing caps imposed on streaming.
This research report from the Broadcasting Board of Governors – the most recent for Mail internet usage trends – shows that less than 10% of the residents in Bamako, Mali have internet access at home.
Despite the lack of home internet access, more than 50% of Mali residents report weekly internet usage. Internet users in Mali primarily connect using mobile phones or by visiting Internet cafes. This means that most internet use and users in Mali use public networks that are particularly susceptible to security breaches.
Considering that there was only an estimated 2.25 million internet users – only 12.2% of the 2018 population – it is vital that anyone surfing the web in Mali uses a VPN to protect themselves from cyber threats.
If you are planning to surf the internet while in Mali, you really should keep your data safe. With so few internet users in the country, solid security should be your number one priority.
While more expensive than some of the other options provided here, ExpressVPN provides all the great features you should need to stay secure, especially in a vulnerable country like Mali or any other place in the world.