The Plan Has Been Announced by ESCOM, a Government Parastatal Body that Has Risen From The Dead in the New Administration
Malawians have been enduring high internet prices in the world. According to Cable UK, Malawi is an extreme example of inflated internet data prices. The United Nations recommends that data should cost no more than 2% of gross national income per capita. In Malawi, people have been paying around 87% of gross national income per capita for 1GB of mobile data.
The endurance, however, has not been with pleasure, but for absent help out of the situation. Advocacy through the “data must fall” campaign has apparently hit deaf ears of the internet data providers. The internet data service provision in Malawi is monopolized by two major companies – Airtel and TNM.
The new administration led by President Lazarus Chakwera listened to the outcries. About one month after getting into office, President Chakwera announced in August last year, that the government will revive the telecommunication market.
Martin Schaaper from the United Nations agency, International Telecom Union (ITU), whose team regularly analyses developments in the telecommunications market notes that among the factors that lead to exorbitant internet data charges include a low number of competitors in the market. Referring to the Malawi situation, he said; “If there are only one or two providers in a country, they have little incentive to lower prices.”
President Chakwera in a bid to make internet data affordable in Malawi specifically indicated that his government will issue a license to another operator alongside Airtel Malawi and TNM.
Exactly one year after his remarks, the Government through the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) has hinted that it has plans to establish an internet service providing company to compete with Airtel and TNM.
ESCOM’s Senior Manager for Fibre Optics, Chester Kabinda Mbewe has disclosed that apart from a fiber optic cable that connects most public offices, ESCOM also provides a support system to local telecommunications network providers (Airtel and TNM) data services.
The setting of this company, which ESCOM says will be done next year (2022), is expected to lower internet data prices in Malawi and keep Airtel and TNM in check.
ESCOM, which struggled to sustainably supply the electricity in the country during the previous administration, has since found it footing and has managed to eradicate chronic blackouts since the beginning of the new administration in June last year.