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The sound of silence

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With my tech ears perched like those of Kalulu the Hare, I waited with abated breath as the Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu started to unbox the 2021/22 budget.

When the minister threw in towers and optic fiber cables into the prose, I had thought that was the ‘aroma’ of wet soil from afar that precedes the downfall; behold, the rhythm of the rain was nowhere.

There was sound of silence on tax reduction or removal on data. Like Robert Frost, all I could say was that two roads led to the forest and the Tonse Alliance government chose the one less travelled. Like they say; Politicians campaign in poetry but govern in prose.

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Erection of telecommunication towers by government in areas deemed unprofitable by telecommunication companies is highly commendable. This action brings technology to some remote village in Dowa or Phalombe districts.

According to Felix Mlusu, the government has put aside funds enough to put up thirteen towers the forthcoming financial year.

The minister went on to remind the House that the government has already erected 26 towers in the current financial year.

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There is an oxymoron, though; what use is internet when the ordinary villager cannot afford it in Nangapoche or Kameme?

The Malawian Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the government intends to connect districts to the national high-speed fiber cable network in phase two of National Fiber Project in 2021-22 financial year.

While that sounds invigorating, it is like constructing flyover super-highways from cities to districts while at the same time making fuel so expensive that fewer cars grace those mazing roads with bridges without rivers.

Next time the Minister of Information and Technology starts the ‘data must fall’ tirade, somebody will have to forgive me if I do not take him seriously. If the government is not willing to lower taxes on data, what moral ground does it have to dictate telecommunication companies to lower data tariffs?

Being this duplicitous, the government will have to hike some mount Kilimanjaro to achieve lower data prices for its people.

Pardon me if I am exaggerating, but sometimes I have the feeling that perhaps some of the government officials responsible for policy are not a Facebook generation. Most of these are probably in the south of seventy. To them a smartphone makes voice calls. They are not aware that internet piggybacks on the GMS of their smartphone.

Fascinatingly, the government has greatly reduced taxes on locally brewed beer. Perhaps I missed it; is local brew soon replacing tobacco as a reading export? Where are our priorities?

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