President Lazarus Chakwera says automation of the procurement system can help curb corruption, promote clean business dealings, increase accountability in public spending and improve the speed and delivery of public services.
The President has since tasked the Ministry of Information and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) to digitise and automate the procurement system.
Chakwera said this yesterday in Lilongwe when he opened the international Information and Communications and Technology (ICT) Expo at the Bingu International Convention Centre.
He added that he has directed the Ministry of Information to work with ministries of Justice and Trade in amending the Companies Act to establish a functional and digitised beneficial ownership registry.
This, Chakwera said, will ensure that the owners and beneficiaries of companies doing business with government are known and regulated to avoid abuse or monopoly of the procurement system.
The President said: “I want us to go digital so that the criminals who rob Malawians by taking advantage of poor record keeping in government transactions can be put out of business.
“I want us to go digital so that no family that needs the help of our social cash transfer programme or Affordable Inputs Programme [AIP] is left behind.
“I want us to go digital so that young people on one end of the country are not unaware of tailor-made opportunities for education and employment on the other end of the country.”
In his remarks, National Planning Commission (NPC) director general Thomas Chataghalala Munthali said advancing ICT will unlock the digital economy.
He said: “Our analysis shows that in Malawi, there are four priority opportunities that the digital economy offers: scaling productivity and supporting commercialisation in agriculture, the sector that provides livelihoods to the majority of our population currently;
“Efficient public service delivery in sectors such as health and education through use of digital government; increasing industry competitiveness; and creating new sources of employment in digitally-traded services.”
Munthali said unlocking the four cited opportunities would kick-start transformation of the economy as envisioned in Malawi 2063, the country’s long-term development plan.
ICT Association of Malawi president Bram Fudzulani said more needs to be done to achieve the inclusive digital agenda.
He said taxes applied on the Internet and affordability of devices were some of the factors hampering increased access to Lct.
Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako pointed out that government is planning to reduce data costs soon.
“We understand the biggest challenge is not just that of accessibility of data but also affordability. And we have a grand plan that will see data costs going down,” he said.
The expo is being held under the theme Mobilising Businesses with Digital Technologies Beyond the Covid-19 Crisis.