Tunisia does not yet have an abundance of high-speed internet communications; while there are internet ‘cafes’ in all major towns and cities, broadband is in its infancy, and I did not come across any internet cafes that had it. In Tunis, one can find wireless connection in many hotels although I did not come across it in hotels or other public internet cafes elsewhere, but again it is very slow. In addition, despite several attempts in different places I was never allowed to connect my own computer in a cyber café. I never could find out why, and as I had, throughout Algeria, gone from one cyber café to the next, unplugged the phone link on one of their computers and plugged it into my laptop, I was puzzled as to why it was not possible in Tunisia. One helpful person in Sfax suggested I buy a Tunisnet scratch card; 5 dinars buys you 5 hours of time, you link into the system from the telephone connection in your hotel room and off you go. Sadly, off we did not go despite assistance from all concerned, and predictably perhaps the whole thing failed entirely. Internet access will now therefore become part of my reportage – what is the state of the internet and ease of access to it in the Dar al-Islam in the 21st century?
So for the record, there are internet cafes all over Algeria, and with the exception of one internet café in Tlemcen in the western part of the country which was on dial-up, connection is quite fast and costs 50 Algerian dinars an hour (about 75 cents). In Tunisia internet access is generally 2 Tunisian dinars an hour which is about $1.55. In both countries it is quite simple to buy a sim card for your mobile phone – 20 Tunisian dinars (about $14) buys you the sim card and time, and in Algeria 1000 Algerian dinars (also about $14) buys you the same. Top up scratch cards are sold everywhere in kiosks.