* It will be enhanced by connecting Malawi to the undersea cable through non-commercial avenues
* Currently Malawi connects undersea cables to Tanzania and other countries via vendor cables
* Which is expensive as Malawi is a landlocked country—Information Minister Kunkuyu
By Patricia Kapulula, MANA
The Government of Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on communication and digital to connect the two countries on the data corridor.
The agreement was signed at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Friday when Malawi and Tanzania held bilateral talks, which were part of activities the Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan undertook during her three-day state visit to Malawi.
After signing the agreement with Tanzania Minister of Information, Communication & ICT, Nape Moses Nnauye, Malawi Minister of Information & Digitalisation Moses Kunkuyu said the MoU will accord Malawi data affordability, which will be enhanced by connecting Malawi to the undersea cable through non-commercial avenues.
Kunkuyu said currently Malawi connects undersea cables to Tanzania and other countries via vendor cables which, he said, is expensive as Malawi is a landlocked country.
“When we connect directly through state to state infrastructure, such as ESCOM and TCL of Tanzania, we are going to lower the running costs of the bandwidth into the country thereby lowering the overall cost of data for consumers in Malawi. So, this is going to enhance connectivity, affordability and reliability.”
On his part, Nnauye said the MoU will cooperate on communication and information technology, adding that Tanzania is determined to cooperate on cybersecurity, exchange of information, connecting the people of the two countries on connectivity and diplomacy of the data corridor.
“Communication and information technology are enablers of other sectors in the cooperation,” he said. “They are areas that determine the future.”
Among other activities, President Suluhu Hassan attended the national service of worship at the Bingu International Convention Centre, visited the Parliament of Malawi and the Kamuzu Mausoleum and joined the commemoration of Malawi’s 59th anniversary of independence at the Bingu National Stadium.
Accompanied by President Lazarus Chakwera, the Tanzania leader also visited Kapeni view point in Blantyre to appreciate the devastation caused by effects of Cyclone Freddy.
Blantyre was one of 11 districts in the Southern Region that were gravely affected by Cyclone Freddy in March this year and according to statistics by the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), more than 2,267,458 people were affected, in which 659,278 were displaced, with 679 deaths, 537 missing and 2,178 injured.
Tanzania was one of the first countries to provide US$1 million support to Malawi towards the disaster and also assisted with two heavy-duty helicopters and 100 servicemen and rescue and search mission as well as assorted relief items.
Meanwhile, DoDMA commissioner Charles Kalemba said Malawi needs about US$3 billion to recover from the impacts of the cyclones that the country has had recently.
Upon her departure, President Chakwera said the bilateral talks he had with Suluhu Hassan will spur economic integration between the two countries, saying her visit has exposed more trade barriers had which they have agreed to solve with immediate effect for the benefit of the people in the two countries.
At a press briefing Sanjika Palace on Friday Chakwera said: “The Republic of Tanzania has been a friend in need from way back including during Cyclone Freddy, they were the first to support us with services as well as monetary support.
“The Visit by President Samia Suluhu Hassan will help us to succeed more in our economy. As we know most Malawi citizens use Tanzania borders frequently for business matters.
“We have agreed to sort out barriers relating to business, security, energy, education, cross border crimes among other areas.”
He then disclosed that shortly Malawi will introduce Kiswahili in its education syllabus as one way of consolidating and strengthening relationship that exists between the two countries.
On her part, Suluhu Hassan said the two countries’ relationship was established by former Presidents, late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda and Julius Nyerere — thus she said it is important to continue playing strong bilateral role that can sustain the relationship between the two countries.
“I would like to reaffirm Tanzania commitment to enhance cooperation between the two countries,” she said. “For the past three days we have really discussed important issues and one of it is how we can work to improve trade.
“What is very crucial now is to double efforts that can improve social as well as economic integration. Tanzania is ready to remove barriers in trade, security, tourism, education among other areas.”
She added that she is satisfied with relationship between the two countries, saying the challenges that are hampering the growth of relationship in trade or other areas need to be removed immediately.
On introduction of Kiswahili in Malawi education area, Suluhu said her country is ready to give Malawi anything within her power to ensure that the language is being learned without any problem.—Additional reporting by Memory Chatonda & Tikondane Vega, MANA