Malawi to host SADC universalising broadband meeting

By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi

The Malawi government, will, starting from August 14, be hosting a workshop on Universalising Broadband in Southern African Development Community (SADC), barely two days after finishing hosting the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Administrative Council of The Pan African Postal Union (PAPU).

Macra Communication Officer Clara Mulonya said the universalising broadband workshop has received an endorsement of SADC, in collaboration with the Communications Regulators Association of Southern Africa (CRASA), allowing the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to host the event from 14th – 16th August 2014, in Lilongwe.

“The workshop aims at looking at strategies that would accelerate the provision of universal service or access in the ICT, especially the broadband technology,” she said.

A statement issued to coincide with the event state that broadband is an essential service that allows for generation of new skills, social and economic growth and it is an enabler of technological changes across the entire economy and all development sectors.

It says the United Nations had set targets for universalizing broadband to allow for all communities to participate on an equal footing in the global digital era.

“One of the central focus areas for SADC is to facilitate universally accessed broadband to its citizens,” it says adding that SADC recognizes the potential that broadband brings to the region to achieve the much needed socio-economic development.

It then further quotes that SADC ICT Infrastructure Master Plan 2012 which  places a greater focus on infrastructure development to  ensure that there is massive roll-out of fibre to facilitate the achievement of its Vision “Digital SADC by 2027”.

The Master Plan it says recognizes the role of Policy and Regulation to ensure that there is an efficient support mechanism for accelerated development in broadband networks deployment.

Mulonya therefore says the workshop will also review the various applications utilizing broadband across all sectors, that is, commerce, health and education.

“It will further look at the case of rural broadband deployment utilizing emerging applications such as Television White Spaces which is being piloted in a number of countries including Malawi,” she says.

She also disclosed that the workshop is set to attract reputable presenters from within and outside the SADC region to share experiences on the broadband plans, strategies and rural broadband deployment.

Policy Makers, Regulators, Private Sector, Academia, industry experts from various key development sectors such as commerce, economics, finance, trade, education, health, and all interested parties are expected to take part and are being called upon to register with MACRA.


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