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Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (Macra) Commissions Television White Spaces Pilot Project

03 December, 2013
 
ICT Africa News
3 December 2013

The Minister of Information and Civic Education, Brown Mpinganjira has called on information and communications technology (ICT) players in the country to join hands with government in ensuring that the rural masses have access to internet services.

Mpinganjira said this in Zomba on Monday during the official commissioning ceremony of the Television White Spaces (TVWS) Pilot Project.

TVWS is a project which has been established by the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) and the University of Malawi (Chancellor College's Physics department) with an aim of providing broadband connectivity to rural Malawi at affordable cost using the identified gaps (White Spaces) in the TV UHF Band.

Mpinganjira said for the pilot project to be successful there is need for all players in the ICT to work together with an aim of achieving desired results.

"This project is a realisation of the commitment by the government of Malawi to promote universal access to ICT services by creating an environment that is conducive for joint ventures between the public and private sector through arrangements such as Public Private Partnership.

"The cooperation between MACRA and the University of Malawi bears hallmarks of such an arrangement and should be applauded. This project is one of many initiatives which the government of Malawi has endorsed in its quest to bring broadband internet connectivity to citizens of this country," said Mpinganjira.

Mpinganjira said Malawi's implementation of the project has received rave views in the international media saying Malawi is one of the five countries in the world who are currently involved in the pilot phase of the project.

Other countries that are also piloting on the similar project include the United States of America, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Kenya.

In Malawi, the project is being piloted at St Marys Secondary school, Malawi Defence Force Airwing, Pirimiti Rural Hospital and the Geological Survey Department.

MACRA Board chair, Martha Kwataine, said the organization shall continue to spearhead various research and development initiatives in the communication sector so that the sector contributes positively to economic growth.

"It is therefore encouraging to note that the TV White Spaces Project although only in its pilot phase, it is already making a difference in the selected areas of health, education, survey and national security.

"This programme will enable a clinical officer at Pirimiti Health Centre to have access to medical diagnosis material from college of medicine in Blantyre. A student at St. Mary's Secondary School will have access to reference material for her assignment from an online library.

"All these examples indicate that broadband connectivity is no longer a luxury but a necessity and it should not be underrated since it is a leap step towards achievement of many development gains that are related to internet connectivity," said Kwataine.

Principal of Chancellor College, Professor Chris Kamlongera, said the project would change the outlook of the country noting that the college's Physics department shall continue to find ways on how to advance rural connectivity.


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