Minister Sosten Gwengwe

By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi

The Malawi Government’s Ministry of Trade and Industry says the time has come for the country’s trade sector to embrace ICT in its dealings if it wants to attract more foreign investment.  

Minister of Industry and Trade, Sosten Gwengwe said this can best be achieved if government of Malawi put up a USD40 million National Single Window (NSW) facility, an automated Information transaction system through which a trader can submit electronic trade declarations to various authorities for processing and approval in a single application.

Gwengwe disclosed that his ministry has since engaged the Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC) to find a private company to rollout NSW.

With NSW in place, approvals are transmitted electronically between governmental authorities to the traders’ computers in real time, hence reducing time and cost.

“It is in the interest of government to set up the NSW facility as soon as possible because it will help in increasing revenue in addition to facilitating smooth trade in the country,” said Gwengwe.

“Fraud, corruption and bureaucracy will be checked with the system due to its digitised electronic platform,” He added.

The Industry and Trade minister said the PPPC has been instructed to start the process of procuring the private sector partner under a PPP arrangement and that the process will determine period of implementation.

Gwengwe said the ministry estimates that a fully fledged NSW would cost as much as USD40 million to be set up.

He however said the system can be installed in different phases, with a basic one connecting only a few critical government agencies at an estimated cost of USD5 million.

“Malawi will have to start with activities that require lesser cost and implement the other stages gradually as funding permits,” said Gwengwe who added that government plans to maintain a minority stake in the facility.

Ministry of Trade and Industry’s spokesperson recently told The Daily Times Wiskis Nkombezi said the NSW will help the country overcome challenges faced by the business community associated with the complex system of data submission and regulatory control.

“The NSW connects information systems of stakeholders engaged in various business processes in the international supply chain, starting from the time the goods are ordered until the payment for goods is made,” Nkombezi is quoted as saying.

Nkombezi said embracing this ICT facility will give a great opportunity to Malawi as by installing NSW doing business in the country will now become cheaper, easier and faster.

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