Malawi fails to tap into K268bn tech capital

Despite technology advancing at a fast pace, local tech firms are failing to tap into a $366.8 million (K268 billion) venture capital (VC).

VC is capital invested in a project in which there is a substantial element of risk.

In his presentation on the Barriers to Technology Innovation in Malawi,  Africa Talking business development lead Wiza Jalakasi, said out of the $366.8 million (about K268 billion) VC raised by African technology firms in 2016, for instance, Malawi technology firm only received 0.0273 percent.

“Entrepreneurs can only innovate as far as the environment allows. It is impossible to innovate for a population group you cannot reach.

“Again, no meaningful impact will be made from local innovations unless they can scale up,” he said.

Jalakasi, who has eight years experience in technology entrepreneurship in Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania and also co-founded three firms, said there is need to integrate isolated technology products with platforms, create business development support for technology firms and open collaborations.

In a separate interview, Information and Communications Technology of Malawi (Ictam) president Wisely Phiri said unlike in other countries, ICT in Malawi is private sector driven, which makes it difficult to integrate as everyone is in business to make profits.

“With private sector, everyone works in individualism trying to make money and the feedback we have as Ictam is that we need to engage regulators on how best we can integrate the systems.

“Nowadays, the world is even more connected. We are talking of cloud computing where data for any nation can be put in cloud which can be in computers that are not based in that country,” he said.

In this regard, Phiri said they are pushing for the Data Protection Act so that critical data for the country should be safeguarded.

“Ictam is also involved in the lobbying for the Broadband Policy,” he said.

Patricia Khowani, regional manager (South) for Baobab Health Trust, said there is need for Malawian innovators to learn from other players in the global market if the country is to make strides in ICT.

In 2016, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Information Technology Report ranked Malawi on position 132 out of 139 economies, making the country among the bottom 10 economies that are lagging in terms of technology.

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