Questions over $13m upgrade for ‘spy machine’ in Malawi

Malawi government has been querried over the cost of US$13, 871.969 to be spent in upgrading the Consolidated ICT regulatory management systems (Cirms) machine otherwise known as the ‘spy machine’.

Macra boss Kumbatira: Spy machine upgrade

Macra boss Kumbatira: Spy machine upgrade

Nyasa Times reported that Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) was divided over the higher cost of upgrading the ‘spy machine’ as there is pressure from government to pay Agilis International Inc of United States of America.

The controversial machine was bought from Agilis International at a whopping price of US$6.9 in 2010.

Macra will have to pay an extra $7 729 361 (about K3.4 billion), according to a report Macra presented to Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture Kondwani Nankhumwa during their meeting in Lilongwe on February 25 2015.

Nankhumwa said on Thursday the decision to start using Cirms is expected to generate $3 million (about K1.35 billion) in annual revenue.

But ICT expert, Dereck Lakudzala, a senior ICT consultant with Bumas  International, wondered whether the system is the right size for Malawi’s  economy.

“It is most likely designed for large economies with very large telecommunications and ICT sectors. In those economies, the values [of the systems] might constitute a very small fraction of what can be saved using the systems.

“It is, therefore, not easy to justify that cost in a developing economy like Malawi,” Lakudzala said in comments pulished in The Nation newspaper on Tuesday March 3.

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 MACRA said “ all the procurement requirement have been finalised and once we complete drafting agreement with the supplier we will start the operations.”

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Black Market
Guest

I doubt if Dereck Lakudzala is indeed an ICT expert. Having or running an ICT based briefcase firm does not mean the owner is an expert, if he was that briefcase could explode by today into gigantic company.

PAPAYA
Guest

These leaders r really useless spy machine while many Malawians live below poverty line. Malawians needs better life

Ice jay
Guest

What’s important to add on is that the Malawian people need to know why government can’t pay off the architects and contractors of the new parliament building since 2009 saying they have no money whilst they are set to pay an American firm 13 plus million dollars

BOX 13 BILILA, N U
Guest

Not necessarily needful as our economy is strongly poor.

Arthur G.M. Mtambo
Guest

ALWAYS WE HEAR THE ECONOMY OF MALAWI IS NOT GOOD, BUT WHERE DOES THIS MONEY COMES FROM. HA!!!!!!!!!!! LEAVING THE PUBLIC IN PROBLEMS —– FIGHTING FOR THE MACHINE——– KUFUNA ENA ABEPO NDI KUPEZA KAPAMWAMBA BASI.

chinyontho
Guest

systematic syphony.

chinkombaleza gumanyundo gowa
Guest
chinkombaleza gumanyundo gowa

Its just as good as someone buying Mercedes Benz and yet he is staying in a glass house and failing to feed him self. and continue begging from well wishers. MACRA JUST WANTS TO INCREASE SALARIES FOR DIRECTORS.

saidi
Guest

Mwayambapotu njira zobera kenako timva tipange upgrade car number plate, driving Licence, pasport, Malawi Flag. Boma lake ndilimeneli kuba basi. Amalawi tikutani anthu ochepa akuononga dziko ife anthu 14million kumangoyang’anila why ? Wakeup Malawians until when we should be sleeping God gave us a rich country but we are allowing few pipo to vandalise it.

Truth
Guest

worthwhile investment by people with forsight. do not plan small when you are expecting bigger things in future just agree with the supply that any future upgrade should bear no extra cost. do not be detered by small minds like Lakudzala. For us to develop we need such investment. ask the so called ICT expert who runs Bumas if he has any vision. he has had a briefcase business that refuse to grow because of such limited thinking. we need such an investment for a growing ICT economy

mbina
Guest

good development. we need this machine now to stop airtel and tnm umbanda. any ICT equipment has a life span of not more than 5yrs. so nothing wrong here. blame it on airtel and tnm for delaying the whole process. macra should pass-on that cost to these two as punishment. just gv the courts necessary docs to calculate damages.

the patriot
Guest
All of you who have commented here are forgetting one very important factor. “THIS IS MALAWI. AROUND HERE WE DO THINGS THE MALAWI WAY WHICH IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM HOW THINGS ARE DONE ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD” All these cries for levelheadedness on the part of our politicians will add up to naught. Soon we will learn that the government went ahead anyway and spent the MK13bln. And it will not be on the spy machine but it will have been deposited in someones personal off-shore account. And life goes on. The poor Malawian continues with his/her “bola moyo”… Read more »
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