Tawonga Kayira
Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA)
CPRsouth8/CPRafrica 2013, 5-7 September, Mysore, India
Critical Issues for Policymakers
Proposed New Model
Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
Promotion of Universal Access and Service (UAS) in
Africa has focused on bridging the digital divide for
the underserved, mostly living in rural areas, where
extreme poverty hampers adoption of ICT
Communities have prioritised access to basic needs
like health, education, agriculture as necessities as
opposed to ICT development
Initiatives aimed at eradicating extreme poverty, i.e.
MDG 1 target seem to run in parallel with those of
ICT development
This paper therefore suggests that a pro poor
strategy that integrates poverty reduction strategy or
economic development be integrated with ICT
Data is derived from research conducted by ITU,
which indicate that Least Developed Countries
(LDCs) register lower development in ICT than
other countries
A decade of data was collected between 2000
and 2010 on internet use per 100 for LDCs,
developing and developed countries
It further indicated that when a country
graduated from an LDC, i.e. Botswana, it
improved on ICT development
Primary data has also been collected through
FGDs and KI interviews in MCTs in Malawi, and
various stakeholders i.e. academia, government,
CSOs and donors, and reports by MACRA
Internet users per 100 inhabitants, 2000-2010
Evidence indicate that there is a stark contrast in internet use with LDCs
being lowest at 3.0%, developing countries at 21.1% and developed
countries at 71.6%
List of LDCs in Africa alone is 33, namely Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central
African Republic, Chad, Comoros, DRC, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania,
Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia,
Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia (Botswana & Cape Verde, graduated)
UAS in Malawi is promoted through:
MGDS policy
Deployment of second submarine cable (Eassy) through
Tanzania, with a Virtual Landing Point in Lilongwe
Establishment of Multipurpose Community Telecentres
(MCTs) through World Bank, ITU and MACRA
However, little progress has been made in
improving ICT development for the majority of poor
rural Malawians
Internet use in Malawi remains as low as 3% with
broadband below 0.5%
Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger (MDG 1)
and ICT development are given different priorities
ITU, United Nations, World Bank, amongst others, all
recognise the importance of integrating poverty
reduction strategies with ICT development but the
UAS policy as noted from USF, has no clear strategy
of linking the two
Countries like Botswana that have graduated from
LDCs, still face the same problem as LDCs on pro
poor strategies, as they are still governed by the
same weak regional framework on USF
ICT development requires a multi-stakeholder
approach that include ICT regulators, government,
CSOs, academia, donors, in order to integrate it with
The future of harmonised policies should include
integration of MDG 1 with ICT development
A new model has been proposed for policymakers which
integrates ICT development with MDG 1, offers a holistic
approach through multi-stakeholder approach, has a bottom
up approach and specifies funding
(Economic Empowerment & Civic Education)
Stakeholders on MDGs
(Government, Donors, Academia, NGOs, Banks, Communities
(with specified telecentre intervention, i.e. e-health)
Universal Access Service
(Legal Framework)
Progress has already been made in terms of
identifying critical issues for improving UAS in LDCs
What remains is for policymakers to harmonise all the
findings when formulating policies, which should be
as participatory of the local people as possible
. A lot of research has already been conducted on
the importance of MDGs to ICT development, and the
importance of a multi pronged approach to dealing
with issues of UAS. What is now required is to have
policies that are implementable at grassroots level
and proper funding of those initiatives for chronically
poor people that do not have any disposable income
to spend on ICT
Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA),
together with the Public Private Commission (PPC), have
promoted Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCTs),
which have had little success in improving use of internet
in Malawi. It is recommended that policymakers develop
policies that target the grassroots in a holistic manner by
involving all key stakeholders who promote economic
growth at household level and those that promote ICT
Likewise, the policies should be harmonised accordingly
and appropriate monitoring and evaluation measures be
put in place to measure the successes and challenges of
the new model. It is also quite critical that the poor and
underserved be involved at every stage of the policy
process, for instance, problem identification, policy
formulation, regulation passing, policy implementation
and policy evaluation.

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