Malawi Stock Exchange-listed mobile network operator TNM Plc, has partnered Members of Parliament to help drive mobile phone penetration, financial inclusion and community development through its Mudzi Wathu initiative.
Launched on July 2, 2021 in Dowa by Vice President Saulos Chilima, the TNM Mudzi Wathu initiative aims to unleash social-economic development at the grassroots level using mobile phone network as the catalyst.
Speaking during a working luncheon with Members of Parliament at BICC in Lilongwe, TNM Plc Chief Executive Officer Arnold Mbwana said support of the legislature will be critical to the success of Mudzi Wathu as MPs play a key role in promoting rural development through making laws.
“As Mudziwathu proposes a participatory approach to socio-economic development, Members of Parliament have an important role to play as they make laws and policies that usher in development,” he said.
Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara commended TNM for engaging MPs in the initial stages of Mudzi Wathu launch saying as representatives of the 19 million Malawians, they are the best tool to use to reach out to people at the grassroots.
“As MPs, we welcome this initiative and promise to be your ambassadors on the ground. Our appeal to TNM is to ensure that there’s connectivity everywhere. We can assure you that wherever there will be connectivity, money will follow,” she said.
During the event, TNM unveiled Deputy Minister of Local Government Halima Daudi as the official Ambassador of Mudzi Wathu to champion the initiative at the government and Parliament level.
In her remarks, Daudi said the offer of low-cost handsets payable in flexible instalments will help connect first time users of the mobile phone networks and increase productivity nationwide.
“This will ensure seamless connectivity between rural and urban areas, and create a platform for spurring economic growth activities in the country,” she said.
TNM Chief Marketing Officer Frank Magombo said the approach taken by TNM to launch Mudzi Wathu is supported by research by Deloitte and GSMA, an association of mobile phone technology promoters, which found that an increase in mobile phone penetration by 10% in rural and other under-served areas could translate to a 4.2 percent increase in GDP.
“In more simpler terms every first-time mobile user has the economic potential of contributing at least an additional K170,069 annually to the economy. On the other hand, for every 2 million first time smartphone users they will contribute an additional K12 billion to our GDP,” said Magombo.
TNM has pledged to spend at least one percent of revenue generated under Mudzi Wathu in community development projects to be decided upon by the people themselves. It is expected that communities or regions that generate more revenue could get a lion’s share of community development projects.