China gives USD135m for Malawi ICT Project

By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi

The Department of E-Government in the Office of the President and Cabinet has said Malawi government has lined up a number of ICT projects to be implemented through the support from the Chinese government to a tune of over USD135 million.

Assistant Director in the E-Government Department Grace Hiwa said several ICT components to be implemented in a period of about four to five years will include the expansion of connectivity to 29 districts across the country.

Government will also establish of a data centre, provision of e-services such as e-immigration, e-national registration and identification system, sharable geographic information system, electronic document management system, e-Learning platform for the public sector, enhanced electronic communication systems, electronic marketing systems and electronic security systems.

“Currently the department is connecting government offices based within the cities of Blantyre and Mzuzu on to the government network,” said Hiwa.

Hiwa whose department has the mandate to lead, coordinate and manage ICT development at all levels, said most of the components mentioned under the project were packaged for funding by the Chinese government but said the financing agreement has not been signed yet.

The said components are under the regional communication infrastructure programme – Malawi Project (RCIPMW).

The project has however delayed because government is awaiting World Bank clearance to provide bidding documents to shortlisted bidders.

The project, which offers a provision of international broadband connectivity to Malawi through the installation and operation of a fibre optic cable from Lilongwe to Dar es Salaam and onward transit, is waiting for clearance from the World Bank to provide bidding documents to shortlisted bidders according to the state body Public Private Partnership (PPP).

PPP Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Lipunga said the tender had not been floated though he indicated that it is likely to be floated in the near future.

“The project has two main components dealing with strengthening the communication sector and the other one deals with fibre optic connectivity,” explained Lipunga in an interview with weekly Malawi News.

He explained that the first component deals with strengthening the enabling environment for the communication sector.

“The main output will be the new Communications Act and the E-Legislation. These are intended to provide sufficient regulation to the dynamic ICT environment,” he said.

According to PPP, the second component deals with the fiber optic connectivity and will connect Malawi with the Indian Ocean based cables through Tanzania. 

He said the connectivity is expected to be achieved by March 2014 next year.

Malawi government has obtained a loan from the International Development Association (IDA) towards the cost of the RCIPMW project and the department of E-Government says several components within the project are projects in themselves.

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