Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera says embracing smart technologies in all government procurement transactions is the key to rooting out criminals who rob Malawians by taking advantage of poor analogue record keeping systems in government departments to be put out of business.
Speaking at the International Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Expo 2021 in Lilongwe on Tuesday, where he was also crowned Ambassador for the ICT sector in the country; Chakwera said his administration has tasked Ministry of Information and also the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) to fast track digitizing and automating the procurement system as a means of rooting out corruption.
The president said digitalization of procurement services will promote clean business dealings, increase accountability in public spending, and improve the speed and delivery of public services.
The President emphasized that building a new Malawi means a digital Malawi that fights and stops corruption in its tracks through the use of smart technologies
“This will ensure that the owners and beneficiaries of every company that does business with government are known and regulated enough to avoid any abuse or monopoly of the procurement system,” the president emphasized.
“When I say that we are building a new Malawi, I mean a digital Malawi that is ready for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow. When I say that we are building a new Malawi, I mean a digital Malawi that is equipped to fully engage with the global community.
“When I say that we are building a new Malawi, I mean a digital Malawi that expands the reach of prosperity and public services through e-commerce and e-governance.”
Speaking earlier, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako said: “The high data cost is one of the biggest challenges in as far as the provision of smart technologies is concerned in the country.”
Kazako was, however, quick to mention that government is seriously working around the clock to come up with a solution.
National Planning Commission Executive Director Dr. Thomas Munthali asked government to invest more in ICT as it holds the key for the country to achieve various development goals including Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In his keynote address, Munthali observed that the country is setting the right tone by embracing smart technologies.
Said Munthali: “As a people, we aspire for an exclusive wealthy and self reliant nation – We have agreed that to achieve this we must focus on three pillars – Agriculture productivity and commercialization, industrialization and with mining as integral part and Urbanization and diversification.”
Munthali said ICT as an enabler through implementation of digital technologies can support the commercial agriculture sector by scaling productivity and farmer earnings.
“Analysis shows that agriculture digital technologies can increase average annual sales for farming families from $1800 to $2250 within five years by scaling farmer access to information through extension services and also providing farmers with access to high quality inputs.
“Improving access to markets and downstream players through digital platforms Facilitating down stream processes and the adoption of E- Commerce can reduce trade compliance costs and time for transacting by 37 % and 31 percent respectively in the next five years.
Munthali further said that adoption of digital technology can also increase life expectancy by additional two years as digital platforms can also raise secondary school pass-rate from 50 percent to 80 percent.
In Malawi, only private schools have access to digital technologies as learning aids part from what the few channels MultiChoice Malawi gives to schools
He said Malawi must therefore implement the following as a matter of agency to expedite realisation of the 2063 National Development Goals which include; Digital Economy Strategy, Digital Government Strategy and national Broadband Strategy and finally the Cyber Security Strategy.
He however, advised government to explore ways of making data prices cheaper to increase the use of internet in the country.
In his remarks, ICT Association of Malawi (ICTAM) President Bram Fudzulani asked government to put in place deliberate policies aimed at supporting small and medium enterprises for them to easily embrace ICT which has proved to be the key in improving the country’s social economic development in the face of Covid–19.