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Speculation over future of Malawi’s tech industry regulator

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Malawi , 11 Jan 2021

Malawi’s government has confirmed plans to set up a new ICT authority to coordinate and leverage trends within the telecommunications industry. Sources within the government believe this will lead to the current Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) being disbanded.

According to the Minister of Information Gospel Kazako the plan has reached an advanced stage and that consultation with stakeholders on the proposal would start “soon”.

“Malawi does not have a proper authority to deal with matters of ICT. Therefore, we need to have an authority that would be advising government in addition to providing needed coordination in the sector,” said Kazako.

An insider told ITWeb Africa that the government is not happy with the oversight role being played by MACRA, hence the decision to come up with the authority to help develop and enforce ICT standards and human capital development.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said, “With the coming up of the new ICT authority, it is expected that MACRA will be disbanded because truthfully speaking, it is not very proactive as often times it takes people to protest for it to act on mobile service providers and other issues affecting the telecom sector as was the case with the bringing down of the high cost of data bundles.”

Although plans to establish a new authority has the support of stakeholders including the ICT Association of Malawi (ICTAM), who feel its establishment is critical for the industry growth, other stakeholders are opposed to it.

UbuntuNet Alliance CEO Matthews Mtumbuka said setting up a new ICT authority was unnecessary and would drain the energy and resources that could be applied to transform ICT services in government.

Mtumbuka is quoted by the local Times newspaper as saying, “What we can do is to simply expand the role of MACRA to include regulation of IT in addition to what they do already.”

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