Malawi engages Econet’s Masiyiwa for affordable internet
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera is in negotiations with Econet Global Chairman, Strive Masiyiwa regarding access to more affordable internet.
Although there is little detail available over what is being discussed, in a statement released last week, Chakwera said he had engaged with the Zimbabwean billionaire to assist in resolving his country’s “connection to the network of fibre technology by which other African countries are interconnected via high-speed and cheap internet and increasing financial transactions across borders.”
The cost of data remains an issue for Malawi consumers and recently government spokesperson and Minister of Information Gospel Kazako ordered the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to urgently reduce data charges.
According to Kazako, Malawians are being ripped off on internet services compared to neighbouring countries, adding that in in Tanzania, people buy a 1GB data bundle for 40 cents (US$), while in Malawi people buy the same for 80 cents (US$).
Civil rights organisations, including Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Youth and Society and Rights Education Programme as well as Collaboration on International ICT policy for East and Southern Africa argued that new measures introduced by government to curb the spread of COVID-19 means that mobile connectivity will play a critical role in e-commerce, e-learning etc.
Chakwera bemoaned the price tag linked to data and said many would still be excluded from e-Learning, for example, as a result.
He said, “a few private and international schools have introduced online platforms for learning, (but) most of the models used have so far proven to be unsustainable. Not only has the cost of data been prohibitive, but the lack of training and support for both parents and teachers to facilitate home-based education and guarantee a suitable learning environment for kids has unfairly burdened families.”