Coronavirus leads to upsurge in demand for local ICT solutions


Businessperson Wisely Phiri says Covid-19 pandemic has created a demand for local Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions as companies in China and the West have been affected.

Speaking in an interview with Malawi24 on Tuesday, Phiri who is Sparc Systems Group Managing Director, said the lockdown in China, where ICT equipment are manufactured, and the West, where ICT equipment are designed, has had massive disruptions in the delivery timelines ever since the pandemic broke out, resulting into high demand for locally made software solutions.

“The ICT sector has not been spared from Covid-19. You will understand that starting from the hardware side most of the ICT equipment are designed from the West but manufactured in China. This means that as early as February this year we have had serious disruptions in the delivery timelines since the times of lockdown in China, then USA and Europe.

“This has resulted into countries being forced to rely on local solutions which has resulted into high demand for locally made software solutions. You should know that as Malawi, we have had higher data cost so even if the solutions are hosted outside the country the cost is higher than accessing the same solution from other African countries. This has created an upsurge in appetite for local solutions,” he said.

Phiri added that his company will continue to offer various ICT solutions to Malawian companies as demands for their services continue to surge.

“We are offering a lot of software development to the academia, banks and governments. We have seen an upsurge for the demand of these from these institutions. We have also seen an upsurge on demand for local skills which has resulted into companies asking for our services from our educational centre.

“The education centre business has increased by over 1000%. I think this is because people are no longer allowed to fly to foreign countries like India or South Africa for training, as such they are forced to seek these trainings locally. I should say we have always been offering these services but most people wanted to go outside the country mostly to get more allowances from their companies and for site seeing,” he explained.

Phiri added that his company has come up with several initiatives in order to continue offering services to the public during the pandemic which is showing no signs of slowing down.

“We are broadening our expertise on the education services division so that we are able to offer more courses and administer more computer based certification exams. We have also beefed up our software division with more software engineers in order to deliver software projects within the shortest possible solutions. This has enabled us to implement complex projects like the Integration Bus that allows our clients to offer APIs for payment integration to the banks and telecommunication companies. These are projects that require specialised skills that we have locally available at Sparc,” said Phiri.

He then advised ICT companies to rely on services provided by local companies in order to survive the crisis which has affected every sector of life.

“Covid-19 is upon us and has come with new challenges. In all this, you can see that companies are now forced to use locally available solutions as skills in foreign countries are now restricted,” he said.

Last year, Sparc Systems Group won the best ICT company in Infrastructure and the best overall ICT company of the year during the ICTAM end of the year awards in Blantyre.