World Bank laments Malawi's high internet prices, unpredictable connectivity
The World Bank says Malawi’s high internet prices, unpredictable connectivity, expensive smart devices and lack of digital skills is hindering the country’s access to a potential US$189-million in additional GDP and US$33-million in tax revenue per year.
In its latest Malawi Economic Monitor (MEM), Investment in Digital Transformation, the Bank said the Malawian government has established the essential foundation for public digital platforms with a relatively well-developed digital infrastructure, but that connectivity remains unpredictable and expensive for many people.
It said this has contributed to persistent gender and rural-urban divides in accessing and using digital technology.
It proposed the roll out of digital financial services in rural areas by developing broadband and financial infrastructure.
The bank said there is also need to increase the affordability of digital devices and services, and that regulatory fees should be linked exclusively to cost recovery.
It also said new public-private partnerships are needed to help drive digital transformation and demand by developing links with regional and global incubators and accelerators.
Hugh Riddell, World Bank country manager for Malawi said, “Developing Malawi’s digital economy will diversity and strength economic growth, job creation and innovation. Digital technologies can help lower the cost of the economic and social transactions for firms, individuals and the public sector. They can also improve safety nets, delivery of public services and transparency for better fiscal management and management of future crises.”
Last month, Malawi’s minister of Information Gospel Kazako admitted that the cost of internet services in the country is exorbitant and beyond the reach of many Malawians.
He said, “Government is still negotiating with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to reduce the cost of internet which we anticipate will be a catalyst in the smooth implementation of digital economy.”