The Parliamentary Committee on Media and Communications has expressed dissatisfaction with the progress the country has made in Internet connectivity, saying service provision remains poor despite the implementation of National Fibre Optic Project (NFOP).
Speaking on Wednesday after touring Internet infrastructure in Lilongwe, the committee chairperson Sam Kawale said he was greatly concerned with how the Internet prices continue to increase amidst interventions of two big companies providing Internet connectivity in the country.
“As a country, we have invested so much in internet infrastructure but since the coming in of SimbaNET, nothing has changed. Actually, prices have kept on increasing. This is a very great concern to the committee because communication is key to the development of a country,” he said.
However, SimbaNET general manager Brian Longwe attributed the high cost of retail price of Internet and slow speed of connectivity to lack of competition in the Internet market.
Longwe said their coming in has helped reduce prices at a wholesale level but end users are not experiencing the price drop.
He said: “As a wholesale provider we have reduced our prices at wholesale level. However, the end users are not experiencing this price drop obviously because there is no sufficient competition in the Internet market at a retail level. Competition is always a key driver to lower prices and quality services but since it is not there in this market, the prices to the end user remain high and Internet connectivity is still at a lower speed.”
In her speech, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, E-government chief director Nwazi Mnthambala said government has opened up to new investors in Internet infrastructure to help reduce the prices.
“Government has opened up the entry in the Internet infrastructure to ensure competition in the market to flood the sector with investors who will help reduce the prices,” she said.
Through the NFOP, government, using taxpayers’ money is funding SimbaNET and Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) to improve Internet connectivity in the country.
Escom has since said it has finished over 60 percent of its plantations nationwide.