By Dean Chisambo:
Digital and Inclusion Forum (DRIF) has commend government for coming up with digital economy strategy which will increase access to Internet and mobile service among the people in this country.
Speaking during the digital rights multi- stakeholder dialogue on Thursday in Lilongwe, Youth and Society (YAS) Executive director Charles Kajoloweka said majority of Malawians has been left behind interms of access to mobile and internet service.
He said : “when you look at the challenge state of digitalise and Inclusion in Malawi, we feel like we are behind despite that we have made some marathon with the law penetration of internet, we only have 14.6 percent of population who have access to Internet in this country”.
He also said they are concerned with growing cut down of freedom of expression online which resulted on arrest of individuals for express themselves online saying they call for government to respect human rights obligation according to the Constitution and international law.
On his part Minister of Information and Digitalisation Gospel Kazako said government is very committed to make sure that the country is totally digitilise and determine to make sure that ICT programmes is moving forward by reducing data cost and providing better network.
He later urged the institutions to provide awareness to people that are on internet platforms to be responsible when using it, other than threatening and abusing other people.
In his remarks Senior lecture for media communication and cultural studies at University of Malawi Jimmy Kainja said internet encourages people to speak freely when they knows that their information is secure and it protects citizens interms of punishing those who want to use people’s data.
He added that the issues of economy, taxation and makes majority of the population failed to buy smart phones.
The study 2019 shows that 14.6 percent of Malawians have access to the Internet, 40.7 percent of whom are in urban areas only while 9.3 percent live in rural area where more population live. And of those with access to Internet 12.4 percent are female and 15.4 percent are male.
The study find that 93.6 percent of Malawians access Internet through mobile phones, a significant number of Malawians 46 percent said they don’t use the internet because they don’t know what it is while 24 percent said they don’t use internet because it is too expensive.
The digital rights forum is a platform which comprises of Youth and Society (YAS), Oxfam, PARADIGM Initiative, Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) and Malawi Regulatory Authority (MACRA).