The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has said it is shocked with the influx of substandard ICT equipment in the country.
Macra acting Director of Legal Services, Daniel Chiwoni, was speaking in Lilongwe on Tuesday at the start of a Conformance and Interoperability Framework Development Workshop.
Chiwoni said technological advancements had come with challenges, one of them being the production of substandard and counterfeit telecommunication equipment and gadgets.
“The authority observed with regret that a lot of the electronic equipment that is in use is not up to the local and international standards and therefore not certified for use in this country.
“Substandard equipment poses a threat to both the health and safety of ICT consumers as well the environment. As consumers of ICT services, you have the right to be protected against hazardous products,” Chiwoni said.
He said it was in this light that Macra has put in place mechanisms aimed at ensuring that the ICT devices available and in use in Malawi were in compliance with the applicable standards.
He said Section 6 (2), 95 and 96 of the Communications Act (2016) mandated Macra to type-approve electronic equipment for use in the Republic of Malawi.
Chiwoni said type approval is a procedure where Macra certifies the acceptability of an electronic equipment or product based on the conformity of the equipment or the product to minimum regulatory technical and safety requirement.
“The type-approval process targets all manufacturers, distributors, importers as well as vendors of electronic equipment including mobile phones, laptops and tablets. The type approval process ensures prevention of interference in public communication networks as well as interoperability of customer equipment with telecommunications networks and interconnection between networks.
“The process also ensures conformity to local and international standards; addressing public health and safety concerns regarding emissions especially from telecommunication masts strengthening post-market surveillance activities on unapproved devices and facilitating the availability of quality devices to the public,” he said.
International Telecommunications Union Area Representative for Southern Africa, Chali Tumelo, said conformity assessment increases the probability of interoperability which would help equipment built by different manufacturers being capable of communicating successfully.
“In addition, it helps to ensure that products and services are delivered according to expectations.
“Conformity assessment builds consumer trust and confidence in tested products and consequently strengthens the business environment and, thanks to interoperability, the economy benefits from business stability, scalability and cost reduction of systems, equipment and tariffs,” Tumelo said.