Ahead of the World Radio Communications Conference, some communication players have asked Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) to create a favourable telecommunication playing field if the country is to promote universal information and communications technology (ICT) access.
The communication players claim that there are many stumbling blocks in the digital age, which include scarcity of spectrum, regulatory frameworks, cost of doing business, affordability and proliferation of ICT services in rural areas.
In a presentation made at a meeting of communication regulators last week, TNM Plc head of radio access network Jonathan Pinifolo said four pillars that build the digital economy are infrastructure, electronic commerce, applications and intermediaries.
He pointed out that almost 60 percent of Africans stay in rural areas and such rural areas are well known for low literacy, poverty and limited infrastructure.
“There is a need to encourage a vibrant technology sector, prioritising entrepreneurship and innovation, investing in new competitive resources, providing digital infrastructure and developing an active digital strategy,” said Pinifolo.
While commending Macra on the move to develop the National Broadband Strategy, he said for such strategies to bring meaningful development and have a socio-economic impact, there is a requirement for Southern African Development Community ( Sadc) regulators to ensure that there is sanity in all the policies such as spectrum policy.
While admitting that spectrum is a scarce resource and at the same time finite, Macra communications manager Clara Mwafulirwa said there is a lot of planning needed before its use.
“Macra conducted spectrum refarming to determine the actual spectrum need for each operator, including the projected spectrum need until 2019.
“It should be noted that Sadc uses a harmonised spectrum allocation plan but Macra is, however, amenable to suggestions from operators,” she said.
With regard to cost of doing business, Mwafulirwa said Macra hired a consultant to determine the costs that are incurred in doing business and cost models were, therefore , developed based on the findings.
“Apart from that Macra is also coming up with regulations on various aspects of the ICT industry,” she said.
Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito said it is important that strong policies are put in place to ensure that communication players offer quality and affordable services to the consumers.