One year after the signing of the agreement for its implementation between TNM Plc and the government, the free public wireless internet project has become a reality in Malawi. Great expectations are placed there with regard to the improvement of the living conditions of the populations.
The government of the Republic of Malawi officially launched free public Wi-Fi across the country on Friday, October 8. The ceremony chaired by the Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako, was held in Blantyre, the second largest city and business center in the country. Wi-Fi hotspots, which have been installed in schools, hospitals, markets, libraries among others, will provide populations with a daily Internet package of 120 megabytes with the option to buy more data when needed. That’s a total of 32 sites that have been connected to free wireless internet across the country.
Explaining the rationale for the project, the Minister of Information said Malawi cannot “ develop as a country without adopting new technologies, so access to an affordable internet is vital. Globalization requires bottom-up thinking ”. Noting that this project is in line with the government’s ambition to build the new Malawi, Gospel Kazako stressed that access to an affordable Internet has ” remained a recurring topic of discussion since I took on my ministerial responsibilities and I will continue to weigh on this issue until the objective is achieved ”.
The official launch of free public Wi-Fi in Malawi comes almost a year after mobile operator TNM Plc and the Public-Private Partnerships Commission (PPPC) signed in November 2020 its implementation agreement for a period of three years. The Free Wi-Fi project is a component of the national Malawi Digital project which received funding of USD 72.40 million from the World Bank in 2017.
In its 2019 report “Economic contribution of broadband, digitization and ICT regulation Econometric modeling for Africal”, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that an increase in broadband penetration rate of 10% has the potential to increase gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.5%. In Malawi, where the Internet penetration rate was 17.8% in January 2021, free public Wi-Fi, beyond improving people’s access to digital services, could help improve conditions life and economic transformation.