193 new ICT Constituency Centres on the cards
By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi
Malawi’s 193 constituencies that are represented by its parliamentarians will each have a telecentres according to the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA).
MACRA Board Chairperson Ted Nandolo disclosed this at a ground-breaking ceremony for the project at Bwanje South Constituency in Malawi’s central region district of Ntcheu, which borders Mozambique.
Nandolo says the project will be in three phases due to financial limitations but the ground breaking ceremony signalled the start of construction of the first phase where 23 constituencies have been earmarked for the project.
He said the purchase of materials for the initiative called ‘Connect a Constituency Project’ is at an advanced stage and that they will be delivered to all the sites within the month of May.
He said government has decided to get serious with ICT because modern systems of governance depend on the availability of reliable information and communication technology.
“Access to ICT services is a universal basic right and government continues to place priority on the development of ICT as a key factor in the development of the country,” he said. Nandolo explained further that the project will provide ICT equipment in the telecentres
For the rural areas to be able to sustain the project Nandolo said they are going to use low cost computing devices.
Each centre is set to cost K2.5 million for 10 computers for each. It will also stock photocopier, fax machine, binder, scanner and two printers.
With these facilities, the telecentres will be providing internet and secretariat services such as lamination, production of identity cards, photocopying, printing services, and computer and internet tutorials.
The newly-appointed Minister of Information, Moses Kunkuyu, also attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the project as the guest of honour who laid the foundation stone.
He thinks communication across the country will improve tremendously through the project, as communities will be trained to use ICT and access ICT services.
“This will lead to a more informed and empowered community and by extension this will translate into development of socio-economic status of the communities,” said Kunkuyu.
Nandolo said by the end of this project, Malawi will have close to 300 rural telecentres since MACRA already started facilitating establishment of such centres through a World Bank funded project.