The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter has challenged the government and telecommunications stakeholders to ensure universal access to reliable internet.
The remarks come as the world commemorates International Day for Universal Access to Information under the theme: ‘The Importance of The Online Space for Access to Information’.
In a statement, MISA Malawi Chairperson Golden Matonga explains that the internet and other digital technologies play a huge role in promoting the right to access information.
“This day and its theme are a great opportunity for us to remind the government, its agencies such as the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), telecommunications companies, and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that many Malawians have no access to the internet,” reads part of the statement.
Current estimates show that internet access in Malawi at about 24.4 percent, suggesting that about 75.6 percent of Malawians are not connected.
Matonga adds that slow connection speeds and the high cost of internet access remain a barrier to internet adoption and usage.
“We remind the government that the Internet has become an essential tool of communication and means for accessing relevant information on education, health, agriculture, environment, natural disasters, and other businesses in life,” adds Matonga.
He further underscores the importance for the government and other stakeholders to ensure that internet access improves and adopt systematic steps and strategies to ensure access for the marginalized.
In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 28 September as the International Day for Universal Access to Information to recognize the significance of access to information.