The Government of Malawi in collaboration with the World Bank is embarking on a Regional Communications Infrastructure Project aimed at improving the quality, availability and affordability of communications services in the country while at the same time improvingMalawi's connectivity to international communications services.Â Â On June 25, 2009, the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved an International Development Association (IDA) credit of US$20 million (MK3 billion) forÂ MalawiÂ under the Regional Communications Infrastructure Program.
Malawi, like many countries inÂ Africa, has historically had an underdeveloped communications infrastructure which contributes to the high cost of doing business in the country.Â Â The Government of Malawi (GoM) in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) has therefore placed a high priority on developing the ICT sector. While the country has registered success in the development of basic voices services and wider network coverage access is still limited because of high international call and broadband internet connectivity costs. The Project will therefore seek to create an enabling environment on Government's commitment to improving ICT as a key sector in the Government of Malawi's overall development strategy. The project will also seek to reduce price of services to make them affordable to more people through competition and cost reduction measures. The project will help remove cost bottlenecks to international connectivity and other bottlenecks at the national and local levels. In the long run the Government of Malawi, through the project, aims at improving productive capacity and reducing the cost of doing business, positioning creativity as a tool for shared growth and creating incentives for private sector investment.
The overall objective of the project is to improve the quality, availability and affordability of broadband withinÂ MalawiÂ for both public and private users. This will be done by using the Government's power as a purchaser of international connectivity to stimulate the development of intra-regional connectivity, thereby ensuring thatÂ MalawiÂ has access to the submarine cables which are due to land along the East coast ofÂ Africa. The Project will be implemented through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. It will linkÂ MalawiÂ to the world by fibre-optic cable through underwater wires in the Indian Ocean to be accessed through the east coast inTanzania. When completed, the project will reduce the cost of international connectivity while increasing the telephone and broadband internet user penetration at reduced costs.
The Project will also facilitate the review of the policy and legal framework of the Information Communication and Technology Sector (ICT).Â Â The scope of the project also includes the strengthening of the regulatory capacity of the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA).
Following the approval by the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors of the IDA credit facility towards the financing of this project, the Ministry of Finance will in due course table in the National Assembly a financing bill for Parliament's approval. Meanwhile Government has designated The Privatisation Commission as the Project Implementation Unit for the Regional Communications Infrastructure Project (RCIP)Â Malawi. The PC will manage the overall execution of the project in the country in close collaboration with other key stakeholders that include Ministry of Information and Civic Education (MICE) who are the sponsoring Ministry and the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA).