President Lazarus Chakwera says Government should embrace digitalization as this would improve record keeping in Government transactions and put criminals out of business.
President Chakwera made the remarks yesterday on 28 September in Lilongwe during the launch of International ICT Expo 2021, where he was also installed as an ambassador of the ICT sector in Malawi.
Chakwera said using ICT services challenges the conventional wisdom of pitting society, business and government against each other and instead creates synergy between them for exponential impact.
“I want us to go digital so that the criminals who rob Malawians by taking advantage of poor record keeping in Government transaction to be put out of business. I want us to go digital so that no family that needs the help of our social cash transfer programme or affordable inputs Programme (AIP) is left behind.
“I want us to go digital so that young people on one end of the country are not unaware of tailormade opportunities for education and employment on the other end of the country.
“I want us to go digital so that the production and storage of food for consumption, selling and exports are regulated by computerized systems that guarantee quality and safety.
“The future of everything is digital and Malawi must not only be a part of it, but also be one of its creators. Even those who are resistant to embracing new technology have been forced to see it’s uses during these times of pandemic. A door of opportunity to normalize and democratize ICT usage has opened before us, and we must not waste it,” said Chakwera.
The President directed Ministry of information to work with Ministries of Trade and Justice to establish a functional digital data base that provides information on companies which do business with government and their owners as one step towards having transparent public procurement system.
“We have tasked the Ministry of Information and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) with the task of digitizing and automating the procurement systems. Just imagine how that will cut corruption, promote clean business dealings, increase accountability in public spending, and improve the speed and delivery of public services.
“In fact, to maximize the impact of this process, lam hereby directing the Minister of Information to work with the Ministries of Justice and Trade in ensuring that the necessary amendments to the Companies Act are made to establish a functional and digitized beneficial ownership registry. This will ensure that the owners and beneficiaries of every company does business with government are known and regulated enough to avoid any abuse or Monopoly of the procurement system,” said Chakwera.
In his remarks ICT Association of Malawi (ICTAM) President Bram Fudzulani said Covid-19 Malawi’s overreliance on foreign firms for technology solutions.
He added that the pandemic has also given an opportunity to the local firms to prove that there is local capacity enough to handle complex projects.
He then called on the government to support ICT innovations, in part, by making sure that they too benefit from the recently introduced Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Order gazetted in December last year to make sure that local IT firms benefit from this order.
“If government gives ICT business to local firms, you are sure of having a widened tax base and you are assured that they will not externalize foreign exchange. This will also align with Malawi agenda 2063 by closing the wide gap between the income brackets through empowerment of our Malawian people”, said Fudzulani.
The International ICT Expo 2021 commenced on Monday 27, September 2021 and the aim of the Indaba is to recognize the success and vitality of the Malawian ICT sector in order to acknowledge and encourage and celebrate excellence amongst local institutions by giving them the opportunity to gain valuable exposure and well deserved recognition for their national and global expansion ambitions.
The theme for this year’s International ICT EXPO is Mobilizing businesses with digital technologies beyond the COVID-19 crisis. And will focus on the following key thematic areas: Telecoms, Cyber Security, Cloud Solutions, Internet of Things, e-Commerce & Apps, Fintech & Banking, E-Health, E-Agriculture, E-Education and E-government, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning.
The indaba will also assist local institutions to market Malawi as an investment destination for the rest of the world with locally developed innovations.