Malawi’s Internet connectivity is expected to improve following the signing of a $23 million (about K16.5 billion) framework agreement on the provision of a concessional loan with China for the Malawi National Fibre Backbone Project.
Speaking in Lilongwe on the sidelines of the signing ceremony yesterday, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said the project will expand the existing Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) fibre network and connect 24 districts.
“China will provide Malawi with 160 million yuan [about K16.5 billion] and this loan will be provided through this framework agreement which will be concessional at 21 percent interest and have a five-year grace period. It has 15 years repayment period,” he said.
The connectivity, whose lines will be carried using Escom electricity transmission poles, will have drop points at Capital Hill in Lilongwe, Government Office Complex in Blantyre and government offices in Zomba.
He said: “Malawians will benefit from this project because most rural areas will now have Internet through the Malawi National Fibre backbone. For any country to develop, information is vital.”
Gondwe said the issue will be taken to Parliament and once approved, government will go ahead to get the money from China.
Chinese Ambassador Shi-Ting Wang said the Internet era has brought great and profound impact on the way life is lived today.
“Even though Malawi is one of the least developed countries, Malawian people are entitled to play a role in our global village. With the building of the Malawi National Fibre Backbone, Malawians will have timely benefits of this information era in the near future,” he said.
Gondwe said the backbone will also provide connectivity for government systems such as the Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (Ifmis), Human Resources Management Information Systems (HRMIS), National Registration Bureau (NRB), Malawi Traffic Information Systems (Maltis) and the Immigration Department. n