Nothing is so scary to human beings like change, especially change that effects people or organizations negatively. But change happens, whether we like it or not. Change makes life worth living because we spend most of our time dealing with changes.
People and organizations deal with change differently. Some ignore change while some choose to adapt quickly. It’s those that choose to adapt that always survive. In Malawi, there is a big internet revolution which is changing the way things are done. People are now able to buy things online from anywhere, something many would not think about just two decades ago. People are also speaking their mind through the internet.
It is a fact that internet usage in Malawi is very low as compared to neighbouring nations. But those dismissing Malawi’s internet usage and saying; it does not have enough numbers that would influence significant decisions on matters of national importance, are my opinion, laggards who are afraid of change.
When it comes to important subjects like these, you can not just wake up and make conclusions. Facts need to be backed by research. Therefore, allow me to take you through the journey of internet growth in Malawi, dating as far back as December 31, 2000 to December 31, 2017. How has internet use evolved in a period of seventeen years?
According to Internet World Stats, an international website that features up to date world internet usage, population statistics, social media statistics and internet market research data, for over 243 individual countries and world regions, Malawi had only 15,000 people with access to the internet in 2000, out of a population of 11 million people.
In the same year, South Africa had 2.4 million people using the internet out of a population of 44 million. South Africa was seconded by Egypt with 450 thousand people having an access to internet while Kenya and Nigeria were third with 200 thousand people using the internet.
From December 31, 2000 to December 31, 2017, statistics have greatly changed. Nigeria has become the largest internet user with 98 million people in 2017 from 200,000 in 2000.
From 15,000 in 2000, Malawi improved to 1.8 million people accessing the internet in 2017 against a population of 18 million, registering 12.090% growth.
By December 31, 2017, 9.5% of Malawians accessed the internet regularly with 720,000 people subscribing to Facebook.
Now, those were statistics in December, 2017 and this is 2019, 1 year and 2 months later. It’s a fact that internet growth has been overwhelming in the last three years. Internet World Stats is yet to provide 2018 growth statistics but one would estimate that 2 million people had access to the internet in 2017. This quite a significant number of people that can one way or another influence the outcome of elections.
Internet usage has recently spread. More and more people are using Facebook among other social media platforms. An estimation based on past statistics can comfortably predict over 1.5 million Facebook subscribers and around 3 million internet users. That’s without considering WhatsApp which has a group feature and members can share messages to many people at once.
With of internet enabled phones, access to internet now is not only an urban phenomenon but has spread even to rural folks who don’t want to be left behind. We cannot ignore the impact of the internet on issues in Malawi. As a matter of fact, internet news sites such as Nyasatimes, Malawi24 and Maravi Post are some of the biggest news sources in Malawi that even affect the mainstream print and electronic media.
Today, media houses such as Times, Zodiak and Mibawa are utilizing the internet for live broadcasts. This is because they understand that more and more Malawians are now accessing Facebook.
It is political suicide for one to deny the impact of the internet on politics on the ground. Malawians active on Facebook are discussing emerging topics in their homes, neighborhoods, social gatherings and in many public places. Photos, video clips, or mere stories are quickly reaching people, unlike long time ago when it used to take ages.
Such topics of discussion spread even to those who do not access the internet. The topics also influence discussions and talk shows on radios and televisions which are widely accessed by many. Therefore, the internet has become a great source of discussion and decision making .
Social media will have a huge impact in the forthcoming elections and will have a big say on who will become the next president in May 2019. Then when we ask the question; who will Malawians chose? The obvious answer is “observe the internet.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :