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Malawi, China sign K16.5 billion internet pact

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Malawi Government, through the Ministry of Finance and the Government of the People’s Republic of China have signed a framework agreement of a concessional loan on the project of Malawi National Fibre Project.

China is expected to provide $23 million (about K16.5 billion). The loan is expected to be concessional at 2 percent interest rate, with five years grace period and a repayment period of up to 15 years.

During the signing ceremony yesterday, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe said the project will provide a national fibre backbone for internet and bandwidth connectivity for government systems such as Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) and Human Resources Management Information System (HRMIS).

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He also said the internet connectivity will help the National Registration Bureau (NRB), Malawi Traffic Information System (Maltis) and Immigration.

“As a country, we are lagging behind in automating our systems due to poor internet connectivity but also a large part of our populace remains unreached by internet services. This project, therefore, accords an opportunity to progress and upgrade in this respect,” Gondwe said.

The project is expected to expand the existing fibre network being managed by Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) to 24 districts.

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China’s Ambassador to Malawi Shi-Ting Wang, said as an agricultural country, Malawi can take advantage of the internet to help local farmers, especially small-scale farmers to enter the market more easily.

“This project will also play an important role in promoting employment and reducing poverty. Up to June 2016, the e-economy in China has created 2.85 million direct and 21 million indirect job opportunities,” Wang said.

He added: “The improvement of network ability and the decline of charges will tremendously inject vitality into the development of Malawi information industry and greatly enhance the competitiveness and attractiveness of Malawi all over the world.”

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