A Chinese investor has promised to revolutionise Malawi’s telecommunication sector with an investment of up to K87 billion ($200 million) to introduce comprehensive and cheapest telephone, Internet and social media services, targeting the remote areas of the country.
Beijing Xinwei Telecom Technologies Incorporated pleased President Peter Mutharika and even attracted head-nodding among impressed government officials and journalists who heard the promise at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Friday.
Beijing Xinwei Telecoms’ chief scientist Guanghan Xu explained that the company is uniquely-placed to provide cheap services because it is not only an information, communication and technology (ICT) operator, but is also a manufacturer of most of the innovative technologies suited to reach out to rural communities.
“We have a unique technology solution which is different from the existing solution that has been deployed in Malawi. One solution we will deploy is called the macro solution, a special technology, which supports both voice and data and broadband in a very cost-effective way,” he stated.
He said in other countries where the company operates, rural customers started utilising a technology super-highway that facilitates Internet services and free telephone calls for a concessionary rate of only about K900 ($2) per month.
Guangham said the company also manufactures many innovative ICT products, including cheap but robust handsets with voice, data and video functions for as low as $10 (K4 500) per set.
He later explained to journalists that the new company would determine the Malawi rates after feasibility studies are done and other business factors are taken into consideration.
Guangham stressed that the company targets the poor rural communities to prove that it can make minimal but steady profit by challenging the expensive approach by technology providers who use technologies which were initially meant for high-end Western and urban markets but are proving expensive when they are adapted for developing nations like Malawi.
“So, we will use the [BeijingXinwei] developed technologies to deploy in Malawi. It is going to be much more cost-effective for us, as other operators have to spend a lot of money to buy the equipment from other technology producers abroad,” he explained.
Guangham said the company has made a mark in Cambodia, where rural people accessed services like e-learning, tele-medicine and e-commerce.
The firm has supplied its products to African countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, he added, announcing that the firm may soon start operating in Tanzania, which has proved to have user-friendly operational provisions for investors.
Welcoming the Chinese delegation, before he and some of his government officials went into closed-door discussions with the guests, Mutharika dubbed the Chinese promise and plans as ideal in spreading development to Malawians in both urban and rural parts of the country.
“The issue of affordability [for quality services and products] is very important. We want you to feel that this is your place,” he said.