Malawi internet users will have an impact on this year’s elections

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.”

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Tizanka
Guest
Tizanka

So votes will be cast on the internet? That is great news I didn’t know we will vote through WhatsApp, Nyasatimes and Twitter, Bravo MEC

MasterMinder
Guest
MasterMinder

koma sukulu ndiyofunika guys
palibe chomwe wanva kuteloku?

Tentative Nomenclature
Guest
Tentative Nomenclature

Chakwera may or may not be a bad guy but voting for MCP in 2019 is one of the most retrogressive things that Malawians can do. Of course, if voted into power Chakwera might behave himself and attract more votes in 2024 but that is neither here nor there! The majority rural people who are said to have nothing to do with the Internet may really make the next president again, but are we surprised why we are not moving if these are the people who are ushering our presidents into state house? Malawians, let us be people who understand… Read more »

psyuta
Guest
psyuta

Unfortunately UTM will not win these elections.

Mapwiya
Guest
Mapwiya

People who vote are the rural masses who listen to zidiak mbc and times. Everywhere in the world presents are put on the chairs by rural people. Check CNN to see what happened to Nigeria. Young voters have put a 76 year old Buhari on chair. The former Vice President Abubakar has lost the election with over 3 m votes and is crying foul. That’s what chilima and chakwera will do in three months time when rural people will put APM 79 on the chair

SCARIOT-MAN
Guest
SCARIOT-MAN

Dr BEN PHIRI, please read this to understand that when u said UTM members are on wattusp, understand that change is coming and is for real

Kaguta
Guest
Kaguta

Internet users won’t decide the next president . They are trying hard to shape public opinion on who the next president should be but it’s the majority rural non-internet users that will decide the next president.

Mbuya
Guest
Mbuya

I think everyone wants chilima to be the president of Malawi including the Dpp. Most analyses that feature here and in the mainstream media they one way or the other speak for chilima.

tman
Guest

master thief,not me

THE POOR
Guest
THE POOR

Well…well done…..CHAKWERA Hi5 and the MCP 2019 BOMA

Daniel of today
Guest
Daniel of today

This is nice and true, if one person got access to Internet just know that hundreds have access also, they share it in groups, no one wants to be left behind. However the social media brings truth and falsehood at the same time. So people don’t trust it, they wait to see and hear the truth. People use internet while they already have choices. It’s difficult to change mindset of internet user.

tman
Guest

my mam doesnt have in my village

Hi5
Guest
Hi5

Chakwera is the only hope for Malawians

Achiswe
Guest

‘…………they wait to hear the truth’. But what is ‘the truth’? Most people in Malawi are unable to evaluate what they hear and so cannot distinguish truth from fiction. This is why politicians rely on people’s ignorance to get their votes. This is not to say that most Malawians are stupid; they simply lack the education to be able to make a valued judgement.