Govt Pushes for Further Reduction In Internet Data Charges

By Lydia Maganga

Blantyre, 4 May, 2021, Mana: Malawi government through the Ministry of Information says it will keep engaging internet service providers to consider further reducing the data costs so that Malawians can really enjoy and benefit.

Principal Secretary for E-Government, Francis Bisika, made the remarks on Monday night during the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre.

Bisika said that Government was aware that the structure which internet service providers are using in reducing data cost is not benefiting Malawi and therefore they will continue engaging the service providers so that the prices can be further reduced.

He said: “We are aware of the rising costs of data in the country and we know that the recent data reduction rates are not good enough for Malawians considering we are now living in a digital world where people need to use internet all the time.”

He emphasized on the vital role the media play in holding public officers accountable and pledged to fully support media efforts to do so.

“We understand that strong framework is vital for media freedom and the Access to Information law will also benefit Malawians to hold public officers accountable,” said Bisika.

Chairperson for MISA Malawi, Teresa Ndanga, thanked Government for the strides made towards the Access to Information bill which she said shows commitment to see that there is transparency and accountability to the public.

She also commended the State House for the weekly briefings and frequent state of the nation addresses by the President, saying the Head of State makes himself visible and accessible to the media and the public by addressing issues happening in the country.

Ndanga, however, challenged government to act and prosecute cases of attacks of journalists in the country, saying journalists are still facing difficulties as they are being assaulted by party followers and even the police.

Keynote speaker at the event, Dr. Levi Zeleza Manda, called on Government to make a good working environment for the media houses by giving them adverts, emphasizing that adverts are the backbone of every media house saying by not giving adverts, the media houses are being killed.

The 2021 Media Awards and Recognition included the Lifetime Achiever, which was given to the late Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma and Zodiak Broadcasting Station won the Media House of Year for  radio and online. The Electronic Media of the Year Television went to Times Television and the Nation Publication Limited won the Media House of the year award.

The 2021 World Press Freedom Day marks the 30th Anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration.

The celebrations started in the morning with the freedom march, thereafter there was a panel discussion.The theme for this year’s cerebrations was Information as public good.

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