Three years after Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal cleared Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) to start using the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (Cirms), half the equipment is in use despite a K10.3 billion investment.
In an interview on Friday, Macra communications manager Clara Ngwira said the regulator was currently utilising two out of the four required modules.
She said Cirms was designed to independently verify quality of service offered by telecommunication operators to customers, verify what revenue operators get from their operations, deal with issues of SIM boxing where tricksters divert calls from other jurisdictions to avoid paying international call termination levy and spectrum allocation reporting.
Said Ngwira: “In this regard, four modules were acquired and these are Quality of Service [QoS] module, Revenue Assurance module, Fraud Management module and Spectrum Allocation.
“Only two modules out of four are operational and these are QoS and Revenue Assurance modules. Macra is continuously engaging the supplier to have the rest of the modules operational.”
However, she said after the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal clearance in 2017, both operators and the supplier of the system were engaged to start implementing the Cirms and became operational on January 26 2018.
During a tour of the institution last Monday, new Minister of Information Gospel Kazako lamented the delay to fully roll out the use of Cirms.
He said: “There is a machine here called the Cirms but it is not working yet billions were spent on it…Billions that could have been used prudently for other purposes.”
In a separate interview on Saturday, Jimmy Kainja, a media and communications analyst who teaches at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi, said the downside of not having the Cirms machine was that Macra as a regulator, was unable to protect the interests of Malawians.
The machine, branded a “spy machine”, was procured between April 2009 and September 2010 at a cost of $14 million (K10.3 billion), to monitor provision of telecommunication services and obtain real-time call detail records from telecommunication service providers.
In June 2017, the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal threw out TNMs application restraining implementation of the Cirms on the basis that most Malawians feared it would interfere with their privacy.