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’.
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.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :