By Duncan Mlanjira
At its 2019 EXPO in Lilongwe last month, Information, Communication and Technology Association of Malawi (ICTAM) said the Reserve Bank’s financial & economic review report for the fourth quarter of 2018, indicates that the country’s ICT is the fastest growing sector.
At the EXPO’s opening day, which was graced by guest of honour, ICT Minister, Mark Botomani at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC), ICTAM president Bram Fudzulani said Malawi as a country is on the track as evidenced by its ICT’s growth rate of 7.0% in 2018 and 7.5% projected in 2019, compared to other sectors.
“This is where we draw our motivation and hope that if we join our forces as stakeholders; that if we work together and leave all our differences; that if we put behind our personal interests and put those of our country, we can contribute to the growth of the country’s economy,” Fudzulani said.
“Malawi as a country can achieve favorable ICT results at a scale, speed, quality, accuracy and cost not imaginable just a decade ago.
“According to the International Technology Telecommunications Union (ITU), ICTs can help accelerate progress towards the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Today, with the use of ICT, an Africa company can do business anywhere in the world with an internet connection — supporting countless jobs and opportunities for the African people.
“A mother in the village can sell agro-products to a family in America, advancing broader economic development. A laboratory in Europe can conduct field-changing research on hardware made in Asia and a software written in Africa.
“And students in Malawi and Middle East can learn together through videoconferencing — all showing the power of ICT.
“We need to prioritize technology innovation as a country, not just adapting to technology. When we talk of prioritizing technology innovation we need government invention on access to capital, policies, procedures.”
Fudzulani said regulations can make or break start-ups and for that as a country there is need to ensure that the regulatory environment is conducive for the growth of the ICT sector through the support and promotion of the innovation start-ups.
“In order to move in line with current developments in this digital age, it is important that we discuss how societies can be connected digitally.
“I am glad to mention that at the end of this forum, we are going to be able to provide direction on global innovations which Malawi can adopt such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, content and technologies that if implemented, will reward every human being and object in the country.
“Development of nationwide digital solutions such as cashless systems, online education, and telemedicine — using the most common digital devices — is a step in the right direction for Malawi.
“It is the duty of the stakeholders in this forum to come up with solutions in these areas,” he said.
In his remarks, Botomani said Government has adopted the national ICT Policy whose mission is “to facilitate an efficient, effective, and sustainable utilization, exploitation, and development of ICTs in all sectors of the economy in order to attain an information-rich and knowledge-based society and economy”.
He also said the Government has created an enabling environment by establishing a fully-fledged Ministry of ICT with the mandate of providing policy direction and guidance in the production and dissemination of public information; coordinate and manage ICT development and services.
Other dignitaries at the EXPO included British High Commissioner Holly Tett, Secretary for ICT Esmie Kainja, Director of e-Govt Francis Bisika among other key speakers.