- Category: Parliament Track
- Written by Phillip Pemba
Malawi Government has completed 43 telecentres out of more than 193 which are planned for construction across the country.
Minister of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu last Friday said the telecentres are being constructed under different programmes to increase access to telecommunication services in the country.
In the 2012/13 National Budget, Parliament allocated K297.92 million (about $827 555) towards the Media and Information Services Programme in the ministry under which construction of some telecentres is being financed.
The work is being done in collaboration with the Department of E-Government in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) which got about K100 million (about $277 777) in 2011/12 fiscal year for coordination of the E-Government project, according to the approved national budget for the year.
“So far, 43 telecentres have been completed since the project started. Every year, we want to construct 12 to 14 telecentres. Some of the telecentres under construction for this year are at window level.
“Other telecentres are connected to post offices and schools as such, they do not need construction of new structures. We just provide computers and other facilities,” said Kunkuyu.
The minister said government wants to establish at least one telecentre in every constituency.
E-Government deputy director Patrick Machika said some telecentres are being constructed under the Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme Malawi (RCIPMW) Last Mile Connectivity initiative with support from World Bank while others fall under the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) and other entities.
“There is about $20 million (about K7 billion) for the total project which looks at many issues apart from the telecentres.
“The money also caters for the review of legal institutions on information communication technology (ICT), preparation of the electronic transaction and management bill; ICT policy and the cost of international connectivity,” said Machika.
Fifteen of the 43 telecentres have been constructed under phase one of the Last Mile Connectivity initiative where government has supplied Internet connectivity, terminal equipment and ICT equipment to 15 public education institutions.
The 15 telecentres include Gumbu in Ntcheu, St Maria Gorreti in Nkhata Bay, Ching’ombe in Lilongwe, Mpinji in Thyolo, Chitakale in Mulanje and Songani in Zomba, according to a brief on the project.
“The Last Mile Connectivity is a subcomponent of the connectivity component. The main objective of this subcomponent is the supply of broadband connectivity to selected public institutions.
“In terms of implementation strategy, the Last Mile Connectivity was split into three phases. The first and second phases were completed and the last phase is currently under procurement stage to identify the supplier of services and equipment,” reads the project’s summary in part.
It says that phase three of the initiative targets to provide Internet connectivity to 100 secondary schools across the country.
As of the end of the 2011/12 fiscal year, government had established 23 telecentres to improve access to telecommunication services in the country.
The programme is in line with the ministry’s objective of creating and increasing public awareness, knowledge, understanding and participation in national development activities through the development and implementation of multimedia interventions.