The Malawian government has mentioned ICT strategies as crucial in its Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), focused on improving its battered economy.
According to Moses Kunkuyu, Information and Civic Minister, ICT is one of the key drivers of economic growth that would put the country on the right economic footing, through the introduction of several system upgrades and setting up of high grade interconnectivity.
The landlocked country has experienced economic setbacks including poor telecommunication infrastructure, general shortage of foreign exchange and fuel shortages which, according to some reports, the government had failed to address earlier.
Malawi’s economy under the late Bingu wa Mutharika was predominantly agricultural with about 80 percent of the population living in rural areas.
According Vice-President Khumbo Kachali, who had earlier unveiled ERP, the new administration will aim at improving usage and adoption of electronic and online services and usage of modern broadcasting technology and reducing communication costs by, among other things, improving the regulatory framework for the sector.
ERP recommends that digitisation of the broadcasting sector, enabling e-government, e-learning and e-commerce platforms. It also recommends the liberalisation of the mobile telecommunications sector.
Experts have however argued that the ERP lacks clarity and focus, claiming it lacks information on who will champion the implementation process.
President Joyce Banda is reported to have mentioned in her inaugural speech how Malawi needs a strong Telecommunications, Information and Technology (TIT) platform to launch its industrial programme.
The Malawian government is in the process of implementing its Regional Communications Infrastructure Project in a collaborative partnership with its neighbour Tanzania as the ERP is expected to ensure liberal regulatory environment regarding international ICT gateway licenses.
A baseline survey of Malawi telecommunication industry in April showed that telephone lines per 100 individuals are at 36.3 percent with a target of 41.2 percent by December 2013.
It further puts cellular line subscribers per 100 population at 0.80 percent while Internet users of the same at 20 percent.