By Memory Chatonda
Blantyre, Minister of Information, Gospel Kanzako has advised Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to seriously engage mobile telecommunications companies to reduce the cost of internet data to enable more Malawians to enjoy services in the communication sector.
The minister said this on Monday when he toured Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority Offices in Blantyre.
Kanzako said Information Communication Technology (ICT) is deemed to be the catalyst of any economy because people use internet data to access services to contribute positively to all spheres of development.
“However, right now, to own a smartphone is like a crime because of the cost of data. Here in Malawi, Internet data is being sold at 80 cents per second and expire within the specified time usage yet in our neighbouring country, Tanzania the cost of data is as less as 4 cents per second.
“In view of this, Malawians feel like they are being skinned alive and they are much worried about the development because it is the mobile companies that are celebrating for making huge profits,” he said.
The minister, therefore, urged Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority to quickly and seriously engage the mobile communications companies to address the problem for the enjoyment of Malawians.
He added: “Should we say that we are experiencing this problem because we only have three mobile telecommunications companies in Malawi? If yes, let us engage more players because we want Malawians to enjoy ICT services without any hindrance.
“This is the new government and people are expecting to see things being done differently.”
Meanwhile, the minister has challenged to conduct a structural and functional review in the operation of MACRA as one way of sanitizing the institution to serve Malawians better.
“We have seen funds from this public institution being used by political parties to serve their interests. How come MACRA can use K1billion per month for its operation?
“In addition, the institution has some people who were employed because of the political party they belong to and they have not any qualification or their papers do not match with the position they hold. As such, this new government will replace these irreconcilable individuals with those who are professionals,” challenged Kanzako saying: “this is not witch-hunting but dealing with the problem in a different way.”
In his remarks, MACRA Director General, Henry Shamu thanked the minister for paying a courtesy call to the institution.
He then concurred with the Minister on the expensiveness of internet data assuring him to engage mobile telecommunications companies soon to amicably address Malawians concerns.