LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi has slightly improved at ICT Development Index (IDI) ranking to 167 in 2017 from 169 in 2016, Maravi Post has learnt.

Malawi is among Southern African countries missing on the top hundred countries on IDI ranking for several years.

This is daunting task to the nation needs to carry if it want tallying with regional requirement of African countries on quality data provision to International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Malawi however is expected to improve on its ICT Development Index (IDI) with current on-going SIM Card registration among its citizens.

The exercise is one of the key indicators used in IDI for the worldwide ranking on data statistics.

This is the reason government through Ministry of ICT, National Statistical Office and the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) in conjunction with ITU organised a two-day Regional Workshop on ICT Statistics for Africa underway Bingu International Convention Centre in the capital Lilongwe from March 20 to March 21, 2018.

The conference which has drawn participants African countries focuses on building capacity on statisticians, regulators, academia among others.

This will also help relevant government officials on the indicators to be included in the (revised) IDI 2018, with an emphasis on the telecommunications indicators

Principal Secretary for ICT, Erica Maganga told The Maravi Post that it pains her each time she looks at these ICT indicators statistics and where African countries lie.

“We are not doing very well and we need to continue doing more. As for Africa, I want us to shine because we have invested a lot of knowledge wealth in our children. We just need to be focused and invest more in research and bring awareness to consumers on the available services as well as the importance of using ICT services that have been necessitated by rapid technology growth.

This workshop therefore will provide an opportunity Member States to learn from our peers who are moving upwards along the IDI rank. It will also provide an opportunity for the ITU to have bilateral discussions with countries and Member states to exchange experiences in the compilation of the data,” optimistic PS Maganga.

MACRA Director General Godfrey Itaye concurred with Maganga on worrying trend which has provoked countries below the quality data line.

“This is the reason we requested the ITU to train our local staff that handle and manage ICT statistics. The general consensus was on the need to provide accurate and timely data for the compilation of ICT Development Index (IDI) and indicators to be used in the 2018 version among others.

However, most of us Member Countries in Africa are faced with a number of challenges ranging from lack of resources to collect data, poor coordination with national statistical offices, lack of expertise and general knowledge gap in ITU statistical terminologies used and understanding. These challenges require that Governments should invest in the capacity and human capital to ensure that reliable and meaningful information is collected not only in ICT sector but across all sectors of our economies,” observes Itaye.

ITU regional program officer for Africa, Anne Rita Ssemboga retaliated the need for African countries to improve the ICT statistical data provision to improv their rankings that help in development index worldwide.

“We shall, during the course of two days review the main groups of telecommunication/ICT indicators, their definitions and methodological issues with a focus on the Information Development Index (IDI) revised indicators which come into effect in 2018.

“Participants will also have the opportunity to share the experience of their countries in the collection and harmonization of telecommunication/ICT indicators,” assures Ssemboga.

None of African countries appears close to the top 50 on the IDI ranking with Mauritius appearing on rank 72 with an IDI value of 5.88 followed by South Africa on rank 92, Cape Verde on 93, Tunisia on 99 and Morocco in the top 100 ranking.

Malawi has slightly improved at rank 167 in 2017 from 169 in 2016. The IDI 2017 saw Iceland ranking first with an IDI value of 8.98