Malawi focused on ICT development

Lilongwe, Government said on Wednesday that it is strongly committed and focused on developing efficient and reliable information and communication facilities that will spur the national economy

Director of Information in the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology Gedion Munthali said this in Lilongwe when he opened a 12th annual general meeting for the Association of Regulators of Information and Communication for Eastern and Southern Africa (ARICEA).

Government has demonstrated this commitment through the improvement of internet access in recent years. Previously, access was limited to principal cities but now it is available even in remote areas, Munthali said.

He added that more work needs to be done because overall levels of access to information, communication technology (ICT) facilities and service remain low in the county of most regions in Africa.

Munthali, therefore, called on member countries in ARICEA to work together in the development of ICT at both national and regional level.

There is a direct correlation between the levels of ICT development and the overall national development in any country. Member countries can pool resources together and project themselves as an expanded single ICT market that can stimulate investment in their respective countries, he said.

ARICEA, established in 2003, is an association that provides a platform for consultation and collaboration in 19 countries to pursue regulations and harmonization of ICT policies.

Delegates from Comoros, Congo and Burundi in a discussion after the opening of MACRA’s AGM in Lilongwe-c Abel Ikiloni

Deputy Director General for Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) and incumbent chairperson for ARICEA Francis Bisika said the association has demonstrated the drive to harmonize regulatory frameworks as exemplified by the development of policy guidelines and regulations on interconnection, licensing, competition, pricing, consumer protection, cyber security and public Key Infrastructure.

Many countries have tremendously gained in the ICT sector through consultancy support, capacity building events and networking opportunities ARICEA grouping, Bisika said.

But he observed that many ARICEA member countries face challenges in terms of lack of safe and secure cyberspace and their continued exclusion from digital space.

The digital exclusion of others beckons us to maximize the growth potential of the digital economy, with a firm focus on all areas that can help us make that leap. More importantly, we have to keep our eyes on the digital single common market which in effect means more opportunities in a seamless environment in which all can trade, innovate and interact securely, he said.

The ARICEA meeting in Lilongwe attracted participation from a number of countries from the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region.

Source: Malawi News Agency � MANA