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Experts tip government on digital inclusion

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Bram Fudzulani

Information and communications technology (ICT) experts have urged government to review laws, address the economic gap and standardise services for the country to successfully implement its five-year digital strategy.

Through the strategy, government seeks to create a digital ecosystem that can catalyse critical sectors that provide goods and services by 2026.

ICT Association of Malawi president, Bram Fudzulani, says Malawi needs to learn from other countries in Africa on digital skills development.

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We sought his views ahead of the African Internet Governance Forum (AIGF) which Malawi is hosting from today to July 21.

The forum is coming at a time digital inclusion in the country remains at one of the lowest rates in the world.

“Malawi stands to benefit from such continental conversations as we are at a juncture where we need to accelerate development through ICT. We have to learn from other countries how they have been able to achieve ICT growth,” Fudzulani said.

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He added that Malawi can learn from countries such as Kenya to review its own model and see whether it is in line with its development agenda.

Another ICT expert Vincent Kumwenda argues that there are gaps in the delivery of critical digital services to the public and in the creation of an enabling regulatory environment for other service providers to develop innovative and transformative projects.

“There is need to review the taxation system on ICT services, including internet, to reduce the cost of access because these are issues frustrating private sector players,” Kumwenda said.

Cyber security specialist Chikumbutso Banda has also weighed in on the safety of ICT infrastructure in the country, which he says is either less safe than it should be or is not adequately secured from cyber-attacks.

Malawi has enacted specific laws that deal with various activities online such as the Electronic Transactions and Cybersecurity Act.

But Malawi Law Society president, Patrick Mpaka, notes that there are gaps in the law.

“When it comes to the regulation of technology, the law always has to play catch-up to emerging technologies and this means there are always gaps in the law.

“The data protection provisions in the Electronic Transactions and Cybersecurity Act, for instance, are inadequate to address data protection issues we face today,” Mpaka said.

He has since urged lawmakers to familiarise themselves with digital issues when enacting technology-related legislations.

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