WASHINGTON-(MaraviPost)- The World Bank on Monday credited the Malawi Government with US72.4 million, to build the digital foundations needed to help the country connect to the global digital economy.
The funds come barely two weeks after the Bank approved a US$95 loan million to Malawi for agriculture commercialization. This aims to boost the quality and quantity of various agricultural products for domestic and export markets.
The development is seen as a boost to the implementation of the 2017/2018 national budget, which for two years has had no international support from development partners.
In a press statement made available to the Maravi Post, Bank says the funds are meant to support the country’s Digital Foundations Project, which is Phase I of the Digital Malawi Program.
Once the initiative is completed, it will significantly expand access to the internet by making it more affordable, reliable, and available in all parts of the country.
It also includes support for building the necessary infrastructure and skills for the Government to scale up its online public services offerings.
Implementation of the project will be led by the Public?Private Partnership Commission (PPPC), with other key partners, including the Ministry of ICT and the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA).
Malawi’s World Bank Country Manager, Laura Kullenberg, said that digital technology is a powerful enabler, which will open many opportunities, because an investment in ICT is also an investment in economic growth, jobs, education, health, agriculture, and good governance
“Digital technology is absolutely essential to Malawi’s socio-economic development. Across the world, communications, commerce and services are moving online. Malawi cannot afford to be left behind.
“With ICT, a student in a remote village can get access to the same educational content as the one in the capital city, and that is where Malawi needs to be,” said Kullenberg.
The funds have excited Nicholas Dausi, Minister of Information and Communications Technology, who said the project assures Malawi of a better digital future.
Dausi added that using digital technology, will modernize Government operations, enabling citizens to access public services, and information online from any corner of the country, and preparing today’s youth with the digital skills needed for tomorrow’s jobs.
“The project is expected to close in 2022. While Government and MACRA will be key in creating a conducive climate for digital investment, collaboration among the public, private, and academic sectors, will strongly catalyze implementation,” assured Dausi.
Malawi ranks poorly compared to her peers in the development of its market for telecommunications and other digital services, and this is preventing the country from achieving wider digital dividends.
The country is ranked 168 out of 175 countries according to the 2016 edition of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Global ICT Development Index.