Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa has confirmed that US$13, 871.969 will be spent in upgrading the Consolidated ICT regulatory management systems (Cirms) machine otherwise known as the ‘spy machine’.
The controversial machine was bought from US firm Agilis International at a whopping price of US$6.9 million four years ago.
Nankhumwa told a news conference in Lilongwe that government has completed all the required processes and invested about US$13.9 million – to be paid to Agilis – in upgrading the system as it required fast speed as well as enough memory for data storage.
“Government is now ready to start using the CIRMS machine,” said Nankhumwa.
There have been growing fears from the public that the equipment is expected to be snooping people’s phone records and emails but the Minister said the system will put to end different forms of telecommunication fraud including revenue under-declaration by operators.
“The purpose of the machine is not to tap people’s information, but rather to monitor the pricing mechanism and also the day to day operations of the telecommunication companies,” explained Nankhumwa.
He added that the machine will monitor traffic, the quality of service being provided and revenue collected by the telecom companies while also reducing complaints from the general public.
Andrew Kumbatira, Director General for Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) said “ all the procurement requirement have been finalised and once we complete drafting agreement with the supplier we will start the operations.”