Minister of Information, Communications, Technology and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati Wednesday launched Malawi virtual landing point to boost internet access in the country as currently Internet penetration in Malawi stands at a partly 5 percent.
Kaliati said it was a timely and much need communication infrastructure against the backdrop of increasing cross border trade and investment; a phenomenon known as globalization.
“Effective and affordable communication infrastructure, especially in the form of broadband plays a pivotal role in facilitating international trade and global investments flow.
She said the government embarked on the project upon recognizing that expensive broadband and internet connectivity constituted a serious barrier to Malawi’s doing business indicators.
Kaliati also said that prior to the commencement of the project; Malawi depended largely on expensive satellite connectivity for her internet needs.
The government spokesperson then said internet connectivity through satellite technology cost the country approximately US$3000 per megabyte per second, per month and apart from being very expensive the quality of connectivity was generally very poor.
“The high cost of connectivity meant that access to internet services was a privilege of the rich, this was an unacceptable situation and set the premise for Government’s decision to pursue the option of establishing a fiber optic connectivity through Tanzania and Zambia,” explained Kaliati
The Government of Malawi in collaboration with the World Bank established the Regional Infrastructure Communication Programme Malawi Project (RCIPMW) to support the necessary legal and regulatory reforms in the communication sector aimed at lowering the cost of broadband connectivity.
“Through an international competitive tender process and a carefully designed public private partnership arrangement, an experienced investor SimbaNet of East Africa was contracted to deliver internet capacity at the Virtual landing point at Capital Hill in Lilongwe at the cost of less than US$200 per megabyte per second a massive reduction from US$3000 prior to the project,” said Kaliati
She further said affordable capacity will promote access to internet by Government institutions, the private sector and Malawian in general.
Kaliati added that high quality and affordable broadband will certainly revolutionalize the mode of delivering services in Malawi especially in sectors such as education, health, industry, trade, tourism, transportation and energy.
In his remarks the Chief Executive Officer of Wananchi Group, Santiago Benedit said it has been a long journey that they embarked on since 2014. He said they have enjoyed tremendous support and encouragement from the Government and particularly from the Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC).
“This is the outcome of a very successful Public Private Partnership and I appreciate the Government of Malawi progressive approach towards national development.
“And I thank President Mutharika for the opportunity to enter the Malawi market as an investor into the Fiber Optic backbone and as a provider of wholesale internet to local, regional as well as international bandwidth,” said Benedit.
He further said the purpose of the Public Private Partnership is to spur the private sector to invest in the long-haul fibre optic backbone in order to dramatically reduce cost of internet access and increase available routes where Malawi is connected to the rest of the region and world.
The coming in of Malawi virtual landing point will see the price of internet down to 75%.
SimbaNET is the company that is providing internet service to Malawi through fiber optic from Tanzania.
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