Malawi Government to Connect Internet to Over 7900 Public Schools

Government has changed the Connect a Constituency Project to Connect a School Project and targets to connect internet to 7962 public schools, Information and Digitalization Minister, Moses Kunkuyu, announced in Parliament.

The targeted schools and their surrounding communities, said Kunkuyu, present the existing demand for internet and digital services, which is a potential effective mechanism to connect digitally side-lined communities.

The project change, according to Kunkuyu, has been effected because Connect a Constituency–implemented in the last eight years to bridge the digital divide–faced a number of challenges that affected the project’s value for sustainable economic and social development.

Among others, the challenges included: Suitability of sites to the intended use of services of the telecentres, exorbitantly high construction costs of up to K80 million per centre and persistent procurement bottlenecks and rising costs of materials and equipment.

Therefore, Kunkuyu said the Connect a School Project is a turnaround strategy that will utilize existing infrastructure (schools) to connect school going students and members of the community to the internet.

“The overall goal of the project is to expand ICT access and use by students and local communities including young people, the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups such as women and girls, older persons and those with disabilities.

“The main objective is to promote broadband internet connectivity, access and use of digital services in communities. This Project will promote schools as community ICT centres in the country,” he told Parliament.

Kunkuyu further said the project is founded on the premises of digitized economy as espoused in international, regional and national policy frameworks, among others.

The minister cited the Malawi 2063 vision which, he said, boldly states that the country will position itself as a global competitive player if it embraces ICT as a driver for development.

“This will be through adoption of a world-class globally competitive digital economy with sound e-commerce, e-learning, e-health and e-governance systems.

“There will also be promotion of investment in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) infrastructure to increase digital access and adoption of robust telecommunications systems that are fast, reliable and affordable.