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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18 thoughts on “Questions over $13m upgrade for ‘spy machine’ in Malawi”

  1. Black Market says:

    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.

  2. PAPAYA says:

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

    1. Ice jay says:

      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

  3. Not necessarily needful as our economy is strongly poor.

  4. 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.

  5. chinyontho says:

    systematic syphony.

  6. chinkombaleza gumanyundo gowa says:

    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.

  7. saidi says:

    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.

  8. Truth says:

    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

  9. mbina says:

    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.

  10. the patriot says:

    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” way of life.

    SAD. Very very sad, indeed.

  11. Achimidzimidzi says:

    This government is very stupid right away from the president,down to his ministers.

    You still want to spend money on this machine.

    The machine called a’ spying machine’ will be monitoring and store data for what use? It will be monitoring pricing and quality, right now you can’t tell whether pricing is incorrect or that the quality is poor.

    Mr President and your politicians are making this country poorer every day because of wrong decisions and policies.

    You mean MRA does not know how much they can collect from these companies. What revenue are you talking about. Is this subscription to MACRA or taxes to govt.?

    Zitsiru nonse, how long it is going to take before you realize that you’re wrong.
    Let this money be included in the next MACRA budget. That will be in order.

  12. Islander says:

    Ndalamayo osawapatsa a MSB bwanji? mmalo mwake mukugulitsa bank ija.

  13. Chigawenga says:

    Here we go again misplaced priorities. Greed and corruption have taken over rational and objectivity in project implementation. How can the government spend $13 Million on a machine that is not guaranteeing a reasonable return? I am sure we can build many school blocks with that amount of money and educate many children in this country. We can build bridges and improve infrastructure so we can attract investors, we can use this money to improve service delivery such as electricity and security in this country. What is wrong with our leaders?

  14. WAWA says:

    WHY CANT YOU USE THE MONIES TO BUILD

    AN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IN THE NORTH

    GOOD ROAD NETWORKS IN THE NORTH

    AN INTERNATIONAL REFFERAL HOSPITAL IN THE NORH

    AN INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED UNIVERSITY UP NORTH ???

    ALL WE HEAR ON DEVEPMENTAL ISSUES IS THAT GOVT DOESNT HAVE MONIES ;YOU GUYS ARE NOT SERIOUS AT ALL

  15. kusyeje says:

    Why do ur politicians carry water in a cup upside down? All ur politicians can’t they spare one second to say let me do this 4 Malawi so that we all get out of this laughable poverty? We Weonly need 10yrs.

  16. ngangaube says:

    Ndalama inayo akuti ikupita kwa Ben Phiri ndi Collins Magalasi thats corruption at its best

  17. Teachers says:

    Thats why we are number one on the list of poorest nations, we make poor decision on monetary issues, we think of I and not we. The machine is useless to our economy, we can do without it, please pay unpaid teachers first, our children will write exams this year, ur children are learning abroad, useless learned politician.

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