MACRA commissions K200m radio frequency monitoring equipment

 The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) says it will continue to broaden its monitoring infrastructure in order to closely monitor the fast growing Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry.

MACRA’s Director General, Charles Nsaliwa said this in Balaka District on Saturday during the commissioning of its fifth Frequency Monitoring Management (FMM) equipment which has been constructed at the tune of K200 million.

Nsaliwa said the equipment will help the regulatory body to monitor the use of radio frequencies in Malawi in order to ensure that the terms and conditions of licenses and regulations are being complied with by broadcasting and telecommunications service providers.

Nsaliwa: Need to broaden MACRA’s monitoring infrastructure
Nsaliwa: Need to broaden MACRA’s monitoring infrastructure

“The Communications Act mandates MACRA to regulate access to and use of radio frequencies in Malawi so as to ensure the most efficient use of the radio frequency spectrum and to protect users of radio frequencies from interference and illegal usage in accordance with the National ICT Policy and recommendations of the International Telecommunications Union and other international agreements entered into by the Republic of Malawi.

“As the ICT sector in Malawi continues to develop, there will be more and more service providers using the spectrum. This means that there is also a need to broaden MACRA’s monitoring infrastructure.

“Presently MACRA monitors broadcasting stations and telecommunication services using its monitoring sites in Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Ndirande and MACRA’s head office in Blantyre and the Balaka site being commissioned today is the latest addition to this list,” said Nsaliwa.

Nsaliwa said currently, MACRA cannot manage to monitor the rest of Malawi saying the regulatory body depends on the mobile monitoring van to conduct routine monitoring of the spectrum in areas beyond the reach of the monitoring fixed sites.

He said MACRA will continue to invest in monitoring infrastructure noting that if left unattended it can be a threat to the country and in the process making the spectrum to be scarce in the country due to congestion which can be caused by illegal operators.

“Let me tell you that on the global level, Malawi is the best spectrum manager and in Africa we are on position five. We shall also upgrade our old FMM equipment in order to make our job of monitoring simpler but let me say here that it will not be done fast since it is expensive,” added Nsaliwa.

Director for Telecommunications at MACRA, Lloyd Momba said the new machine can monitor from a distance of 60 to 80 kilometers adding the equipment will monitor any person who is using the spectrum at that time and shall be able to detect any illegal operator.

“You remember in the past we have been arresting people for operating radios without license like the case of Gabriel Kondesi in Mulanje, this is the type of machine we use to trace those illegal operators.

“If the spectrum cannot be used properly even planes can fail to land or take off at the Airport since there can be interferences which can make authorities fail to communicate properly,” said Momba.

In October, 2009, police arrested Gabriel Kondesi (21) for operating a radio station without a license. Sympathizers, however, came in to his rescue and got him out of jail and he then was enrolled at the Kaphuka private school after he was given a scholarship to continue with his studies.

The FMM equipment has been constructed by TCI International Inc and according to its Field Service Engineer, Motlhaleemang Moalosi, the equipment will go a long way in ensuring that no illegal operator in the communication sector is interfering with the country’s spectrum.

Moalosi said many countries have already acquired the modern equipment citing countries like Botswana, Uganda, Tunisia, Ghana, Zambia, Ethiopia and Nigeria among others.

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