EXPECTATIONS are high that access to public services in Malawi will greatly improve after the completion of a five-year digital development project by the World Bank.
Called “Digital Malawi”, the e-services project seeks to improve communication between government offices, advance ICT governance, expand access to government information and services and reduce infrastructure costs.
These goals will be achieved by providing reliable, fast and adaptive ICT infrastructure and ICT systems and an enabling environment that will facilitate provision of e-services thereby enhancing public service delivery.
A statement by the World Bank indicated that “Digital Malawi” will target three key areas of digital development.
The first component will make Malawi a more attractive and competitive place to invest and innovate while ensuring that the benefits of digital technology are reaching citizens.
Secondly, the project will encourage infrastructure development in areas which do not attract investment from the private sector by connecting all public institutions in the country and linking higher education institutions to improve local content development.
The digital platform and services component will focus on digital transformation for Malawi to deliver an advanced, competitive economy and modern, effective public services.
The project comes as Malawi is struggling to utilise the growth of the technology sector to improve communication in a country whose citizens are largely poor and reside in hard to reach areas.
Furthermore, the infrastructure is generally underdeveloped to quickly accommodate rapid developments in the digital world.
In reaction, the government has instituted the Department of E-Government to lead, coordinate and manage ICT development in Malawi’s public service.
The department works on the delivery of innovative and efficient e-government solutions and services for the improvement of delivery of public services and maximizing impact of ICTs on the achievement of Malawi Growth Development Strategy (MGDS) goals.
Its key function areas are network infrastructure, applications development and support, policy planning, research and programmes and ICT education and Training.