Poor infrastructure for digitisation: Govt
By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi
Government has conceded that Malawi does not have the much needed infrastructure achieve digitisation following a report by the World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report (GITR) which shows that the country has slumped by 13 steps on information and communications technology (ICT) uptake.
"Time is not on our side,” conceded Information and Civic Education Minister Moses Kunkuyu in reaction to the report, which states that ICT stimulates job creation and economic development.
He said this is the case because Malawi does do not have the resources and the infrastructure for digitisation.
He however said government is ‘desperately’ trying to create more infrastructures in the country with the establishment of ICT services in rural areas through the establishment of telecentres.
Kunkuyu says this is going to promote access to ICT and perhaps help the country take a respectable position when the report, which argues that high-speed broadband networks have demonstrated a positive impact on short-term and long-term employment, and that the next wave of internet development will further advance the growth effects of the network, comes out again next year
To show government effort, the minister said they are currently building new telecentres.
“We are also connecting existing buildings such as post offices,” says Kunkuyu.
He also marks the drafted ICT policy which he says will soon be approved by Cabinet.
The World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report, which has established that governments have a role to play as digital market makers, indicate that Malawi has crashed from position 116 last year to 129 out of 144 economies assessed in 2013.
Malawi has scored 2.8 in the current report down from 3.1 in the previous report, an indication that the country is relatively struggling in its readiness for ICT services the report says.
As the findings suggest, Malawi has failed to ease the situation for doing business and in the process investors has not found it attractive, thereby retarding job and wealth creation.
The report draws a roadmap for policymakers and national leaders that having laid the necessary groundwork by building out broadband infrastructure and ensuring access, it is now time to differentiate around distinctive opportunities and capabilities.
The report suggests: “It means understanding the tradeoffs between job creation and productivity that increasing digitisation brings, and creating mechanisms to offset potential job losses."
In the report, which notes that technology can have an impact in economic growth and employment has Mauritius on position 55 as the best in Africa followed by South Africa on position 70.
Others are Kenya on 92, Botswana on 96, Uganda on 110, Namibia on 111, Zambia on 115, Zimbabwe on 116, and Tanzania on position 127.