Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) says the five-year Universal Service Fund (USF) strategic plan will promote availability, accessibility and affordability of information and communications technology (ICT) services.
Established in 2018 under the Communications Act, the USF is one of Macra’s initiatives to ensure that there is practicable, dependable and affordable communication services in the country.
In an interview on Tuesday in Blantyre on the sidelines of the launch, Macra board chairperson Stanley Khaila said the strategic plan was informed by a gap analysis study conducted to map out communication gaps within each ICT sector.
“The fund finances ICT projects in the telecommunication, broadcasting and postal sectors for a digitally inclusive Malawi, helping the country to bridge the digital divide and make strides for an information-rich society, turning our ICT potential into tangible benefits,” he said.
Khaila said the fund has been operational since 2019 and some of the projects have been carried out in the telecommunications, broadcasting and postal sectors.
The projects being implemented include rural broadband project, connect a school project, public Wi-Fi project, persons with disability project, digital inclusion project, mail conveyance project and fleet management project.
USF chairperson Charles Thangalimodzi said since its operationalisation in 2019, the USF has addressed some communication gaps and designed various interventions to address such gaps.
“Those gaps include connecting schools and public institutions to the Internet and providing motorcycles to enhance mail conveyance in the postal sector,” he said.
Minister of Information and Digitisation Gospel Kazako said USF is the most reliable and credible solution to link all unconnected Malawians.
“The USF is the most dependable tool that will facilitate all Malawians regardless of where they are domiciled to enjoy fruits that come with the communication services equally,” he said.
Kazako said the USF will unlock bottlenecks in the communications sector by ensuring that services are available, accessible and affordable.
He expects the USF to drive efforts in making communications services available to everyone.