Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture Kondwani Nankhumwa came under fire from backbenchers yesterday over inefficiencies of the country’s biggest mobile telecommunication providers, Airtel and TNM.
In his supplementary question, member of Parliament (MP) for Balaka Central East Aufi Mpaweni (United Democratic Front-UDF) bemoaned continued and numerous network interruptions being experienced by the companies’ subscribers.
Said the MP: “The quality of their network is pathetic, in most cases it is not strange to have one’s call cut. Complaints have long been lodged to your ministry, but nothing has been done to ensure Airtel and TNM improve their services.”
MP for Mchinji South West Gumba Banda (MCP) also asked Nankhumwa to find out from the two companies why they do not have proper network in areas along borders.
Said Banda: “People living along the borders use foreign networks and when those are not available, they are forced to roam, which is very expensive. It is not fair to subject poor people to expensive roaming charges.”
In his response, Nankhumwa disclosed that government, through his ministry, is discussing with Airtel and TNM on infrastructure sharing, whereby the two companies will erect a tower together and place their respective transmitters on it.
Said the minister: “This will ensure they reduce costs of constructing towers and improve their network reach. Government is also reviewing the Communications Act which will invite and attract more players into the industry so that we exert pressure on them to improve their services.
“The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority [Macra] is also in consultations with Airtel and TNM so that their services are in tandem with their mandate as per their respective licences.”