Facebook to invest in ICT infrastructure in Malawi

Facebook has expressed commitment to improving Malawi Government capabilities in information and communication technology (ICT) through investment as well as addressing social media abuse.

The commitment was registered in Blantyre during a one day meeting which Facebook, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), Ministry of Information and Fiscal Police held on Wednesday to find a common ground on how to limit the abuse of the social media.

Briefing the media after the meeting, Facebook Africa Public Policy Manager for Access and Connectivity, Kojo Boakye said Facebook and Malawi Government have the same vision of connecting many Malawians to internet, especially those in rural areas.

“The discussion centred on how we might be able to connect more Malawians to the internet, something that government of Malawi intends to do in collaboration with Facebook,” Boakye said.

“We are making great investments to solve key infrastructure challenges and we are focusing on two areas; the first is bulk whole area, we laid 800 km of optic fibre in northern Uganda and we would like to replicate the same in other countries,” he added.

He said the quality of the environment to invest in is important such that a particular government is supposed to facilitate that kind of investment or infrastructure. He said Malawi Government had demonstrated that it would create such an atmosphere.

“In addition, we would like to invest in wireless infrastructure to connect rural areas of Malawi and we have teams dedicated to do that. It was about whether MACRA and government would be supportive to any effort we might undertake,” Boakye said.

Principal Secretary for Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Erica Maganga described the development as a positive move towards ICT development in the country and assured Facebook of government’s commitment in facilitating its investment.

“As government, we are happy to have held the meeting with Facebook. What is most pleasing is that Facebook is now willing to come to Malawi to look at what kind of investment they could bring and also the training they would offer in universities,” Maganga said.

MACRA Director General, Godfrey Itaye said the meeting was beneficial as the regulatory body had a chance to talk to Facebook on how MACRA and Facebook could collaborate in limiting the abuse of various social media platforms.

“This will ensure that crimes committed on Facebook are dealt with appropriately,” Itaye told the press.

Taking his turn, Fiscal Police Detective Joseph Nkuna said the meeting had come at the right time as the police have been receiving many reports of Facebook account abuse.

“This meeting will assist Malawi Police Service. I would like to thank government through MACRA for the initiative. It has come at a time when we are receiving complaints regarding Facebook; peoples’ accounts have been hacked and abused by other people.

“The relationship that we are building with Facebook will go a long way in keeping people in check behind the malpractice,” Nkuna said.

The meeting is the first ever to take place among the parties. It has been agreed that similar meetings be held in the near future to fast-track the whole process of investment as well as the introduction of Facebook security team to work hand in hand with Malawi Police Service in limiting social media abuse.

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