Minister of Information and Communications Technology Malison Ndau says government has signed seven memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with Internet service providers (ISPs), a move that could create competition and push down Internet charges.
The minister said in an interview on Thursday on the sidelines of World Postal Day at Ntaja in Machinga that Malawi has few ISPs, making Internet charges expensive.
“Currently, we have signed MoUs with Internet service providers from as far as Israel, India and Japan and we are hoping for reduced charges once these players roll out their services,” he said.
Ndau said in addition to the signing of the MoUs, government is banking hopes on the ICT Bill, which is at Cabinet level, for better services.
Malawi is one of the countries with poor Internet affordability ratio in the world, and according to 2015/16 Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) Report, the country is ranked 47 out of 51 economies with an Internet affordability of 20.1 percent of gross national income (GNI) per capita.
Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) director general Godfrey Itaye said the regulator continues to look at ways of bringing down Internet charges for the benefit of the consumer.
He said: “We now have a virtual landing point in Lilongwe and this is one of the interventions towards reducing Internet costs.
“We are also recruiting a consultant to help us to determine the cost of doing business so that we ascertain exactly how much it costs the operators, and once we are done, we will engage operators to look at ways of bringing down the charges.”
Information and communication technology experts argue that at $600 (K438 000) per megabyte per second (Mbps) per month cost of Internet is expensive. n