Malawi to improve ICT services for development, boost economy

Clerk to the cabinet Clement Chinthu Phiri says Malawi government is geared to improve the delivery of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services in various socio-economic sectors as one way of opening up avenues and development opportunities that have not been fully exploited due low levels of adoption of technology and limited access to information.

Speaking when he opened the civil service ICT common service symposium at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe on Monday, Phiri  said ICT  have been recognized globally as “catalysts of development “.

“Government has put much emphasis on the development and utilization of ICT, including the establishment of and roll out of ICT infrastructure, especially in the public sector as a way of enhancing and accelerating development in various sectors of the economy,” said Chinthu Phiri.

Teachers in ICT training in Malawi

Chinthu Phiri, however, bemoaned lack of proper and full utilization of the infrastructure that is already in place saying as a result of this some other government funds have gone down the drain unaccounted for when they could have been saved if proper interventions were done in time.

“If we can go to the government website today you will find that there is nothing on the cancellation of hosting the African Union (AU) summit yet we have the personnel manning the site. Even if I can go to the human resource department and ask for my letter of appointment I do not think they will give me,” said Chinthu Phiri.

Principal Secretary for E-government department, Olive Chikankheni, stressed on the need to have “adequate infrastructure and human resource and also sharpen the skills of the staff that is already there in the system. “

He said “the government finance records have to be digitalized to run away from some incompetency that can be easily avoided.”

The symposium which has been organized by the E- government department is being held under the theme ‘Reviving the Power of ICT in the Civil Service: Towards Achievement of the MGDS.’

A similar symposium was last held 3 years ago. This has been the case due to financial constraints.

President Joyce Banda unveiled her vision on ICT in her inaugural state of the nation address.

“Malawi needs a strong Telecommunications, Information and Technology (TIT) platform in order to launch its industrial programme,” declared President Banda.

She said Malawi’s TIT Platform will be able to integrate security, banking and insurance, taxation, deeds office, immigration, courts, traffic licensing, business registration, national register, education and health sectors in order to realise integrated planning and monitoring.

The TIT programme according to President Banda will take a long term view to support initiatives to change the structure of the economy.

“Government will take deliberate effort to build telecommunications infrastructure in the rural areas to support rural development initiatives and broaden the formal economy,” she said.

The Head of State said in order for the country to fast track the achievement of its national development goals, the government is enhancing e-government service in order to coordinate and manage national and public sector ICT development and utilization aimed at improving public service delivery.

Banda said her government has prioritised ICT “as a catalyst for advancement.

She also said government would not only install computer and cell phone centres in rural areas, but also computer and cell phone laboratories in secondary and technical schools and universities.”

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