Malawi President Peter Mutharika has asked the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) to speed up the review of the Communications Act to improve access to modern information and communications technology (ICT) such as the Internet in the country.
The President said this yesterday at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe after Macra donated 50 computers and 50 printers towards the Community Colleges Initiative which Mutharika launched in March.
Macra director general Andrew Kumbatira agreed that reviewing the current Communications Act, passed in 1998, is one of the key elements towards improving communications hurdles in the country, especially in rural areas.
He said although the country has good mobile telecommunications network coverage at 90 percent, Internet connectivity penetration is at 40 percent due to lack of access to disposable income, among other factors.
Said Kumbatira: “In 2004, mobile Internet penetration was at seven percent, but today it has jumped to 40 percent. However, this is not good enough because other countries [such as] Botswana have more than 140 percent mobile Internet penetration.”
He also said high tariff charges by mobile telecommunications network operators and inavailability of services in rural areas are some of the reasons behind the low penetration percentage.
Kumbatira said Macra plans to licence another mobile telephone operator to increase competition, especially in terms of pricing.
On the donation, Kumbatira said the computers would be allocated to the already opened community colleges with each of them receiving five computers and a printer. He said Macra would also connect the institutions to the Internet.