Only about 500 thousand people own smartphones out of the 12 million that have mobile gadgets in the country, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has revealed.
The rest of the population is restricted to devices which only allow voice and SMSs.
According to the regulator’s director general Daud Suleman, the development is as a result of the high cost of data as well as cost of devices among other factors.
“The biggest problem is the cost of data which as a regulator we understand it was highly priced but we have worked with partners to look into the same.
The other issue is that when these devices land in Malawi they are at a high cost and a lot of Malawians cannot afford to part ways with extra money to buy smart devices and they only resort to Mose wa lero (dumbphone).” Suleman clarified.
The regulator’s director general describes this as a setback to plans aimed at monetizing digital content.
He said; “for instance, Line Ho that was done by Gides Chalamanda had about one hundred million views but if you look at how many Malawians watched it, they are about twenty thousand only. This means we cannot generate income from digital content created in the country.”
Suleman has since disclosed that there are several interventions which are being put in place to ensure that the remaining population of 11.5 million accesses smart devices.
Malawi’s current population is estimated to be 20,804,383 based on projections of the latest United Nations data.
During the last census which was conducted by the Malawi national Statistical Office in 2018, the country’s population was counted as 17,563,749.