Malawi has slumped by an overwhelming 13 steps on information and communications technology (ICT) uptake moving from rank 116 last year to 129 out of 144 economies in 2013.
The World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report (GITR) indicates that Malawi has scored 2.8 in the current report down from 3.1 in the previous report, an indication that the country is relatively struggling in its readiness for ICT services.
This apparently implies that Malawi is doing poorly on the ease of doing business, thereby discouraging investment and hence retarding job and wealth creation.
The report, among others, argues that ICT stimulates job creation and economic development.
“The lesson for policymakers and national leaders is clear: having laid the necessary groundwork by building out broadband infrastructure and ensuring access, it is now time to differentiate around distinctive opportunities and capabilities. Governments have a role to play as digital market makers. That means making deliberate choices about what sectors furnish the best opportunity for that absolute advantage Adam Smith described and focusing on them. It means understanding the tradeoffs between job creation and productivity that increasing digitisation brings, and creating mechanisms to offset potential job losses,” reads the report in part.
However reacting to the report in an interview on Tuesday Malawi’s Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu said the report vindicates the Malawi’s state of infrastructure and its readiness to digitization.
“Certainly time is not on our side because we do not have the resources and the infrastructure for digitization. However government is doing a lot to promote access to ICT services through the establishment of tele-centres. We are building new ones and we are also connecting existing buildings such as post offices. We have drafted an ICT policy which will soon be approved by Cabinet,” said Kunkuyu.
Earlier this year, Malawi Communication and Regulatory Authority (Macra) spokesperson Clara Mulonya in an e-mail blamed poor access to ICT on high costs of equipment and heavy tax on telecommunications equipment.
She also added that the government in conjunction with its development partners such as the World Bank are working on projects such as the Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme- Malawi project aimed at reducing the price of internet services in Malawi.
The GIRT report ranks Mauritius on 55, South Africa at 70, Kenya 92, Botswana 96, Uganda 110, Namibia 111, neighbouring Zambia on 115, Zimbabwe 116, and neighbouring Tanzania on 127.
The report further notes that technology can have an impact in economic growth and employment.
It argues that high-speed broadband networks have demonstrated a positive impact on short-term and long-term employment, and that the next wave of internet development will further advance the growth effects of the network.