Representatives of the ICT Association of Malawi (Ictam) are speaking highly of 2019 stressing it was a year the country embraced Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions more than before.
In a questionnaire response Ictam President, Bram Fudzulani, said in the past year, Malawi recognised the importance and the need to embrace the digital change that has been going on all around the world.
He cited use ICT for the first time in the tripartite elections and the country hosting an international ICT exhibition.
“The year 2019 was a year the industry grew and got significant recognition as the industry was at the heart of the elections, from voter registration, voter verification all the way to results transmission. This is a huge milestone for the country and yes, there are many areas that need improving but it is a good step and direction that we undertook.
“For businesses, we had the first ever-International ICT EXPO that took place in August last year which brought together businesses, government, academia and end users at large to discuss on how Malawi can move forward and transform into an ICT driven economy, bringing together a diverse range of ICT Services, product providers and policy makers under the theme ‘ICT as a catalyst for economic growth’. The Expo focused on Telecoms, Cyber Security, Cloud Solutions, Internet of Things, e-Commerce and Applications, Fintech and Banking and E-government,” Fudzulani said.
He added that the Association was also able to voice out growing concerns on internet charges with the parliamentary media committee and engaged regulators (MACRA) and the telecom operators on the issue of poor service delivery.
He expressed hope that the discussions will stimulate some positive changes that will be seen in 2020.
Fudzulani further said the Association plans to enhance promotion of innovations and entrepreneurship, and encourage data collection in the New Year.
“With the drafting of the Data Protection bill we will also be advocating for the sharing of data amongst entrepreneurs to help them develop better business plans as well as looking into tax policies and startup financing,” Fudzulani said.
A 2017 study conducted by Uganda based Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (Cipesa), found Malawi which at the time had four operational telecommunication service providers, to have had the lowest penetration rate of mobile services at 36 percent, while the local Internet penetration rate was at 9 percent.
However its peers in the region such as Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia had an improved mobile penetration rate of 95, 83 and 73 percent respectively, and a corresponding Internet penetration rate of 50, 40 and 31 percent.
The study focused on the economic aftermath which ESA countries were reeling under due to persistent government backed Internet shutdowns, surveillance, filtering and censorship mainly as a result of hate speech, fake news, child and women rights and terrorism.