MACRA Improves Quality of Service Delivery on Mobile Networks, Introduces New Strategic Plan.
The mobile networks regulator, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), has disclosed that it is investing about US$10 million in the 2023–24 financial year aimed at putting up systems that will help the telecommunications regulator to be proactive.
The disclosure was made in Mzuzu City by MACRA Director General, Daud Suleman during the inauguration of MACRA offices in the city. The system is meant to improve mobile quality services of network in the region.
MACRA is implementing a project dubbed ‘Better Quality of Service for Malawi’ on which Suleman said the Authority is working closely with Airtel and TNM.
“We have identified some issues, and we have planned for six months to rectify them. Most importantly, as a regulator, we are putting up systems that will now help us to be proactive,” he said.
“MACRA is also coming from an era where it was waiting for someone to inform the body that phone calls were dropping in Mzuzu, but now we are putting up systems to resolve the challenges. The authority is investing about US$10 million in this financial year to bring about the systems, and these systems will help us to be proactive,” said Suleman.
“MACRA will be able to know at what time there was bad reception in Mzuzu and at what time calls were dropping. With that information, now it can take service providers to task because, as a regulator, you are aware that everything MACRA does touches on an issue of law, and if we go to the service providers without hard evidence, they are going to strike us back,” Suleman explained.
On the issues of law Suleman further articulated that it’s better to have accurate information before approaching the courts to avoid penalties.
“You know, courts are quite an expensive undertaking, but now, with our systems, we are going to have evidence that when we go to an operator and tell them that they had poor service on a given day and time, and there is no way they can backup. We hope that the rolling out of these regulatory systems will help to improve the quality of services that members of the general public in Malawi are enjoying,” he explained.
During the opening ceremony of the office in Mzuzu, the MACRA Director General said the office will play a vital role as far as service delivery in the communication sector is concerned.
“The fact that we have a physical presence in Mzuzu means that the regulatory body will be closer to the people because, as a regulator, our number one element is to protect people, the consumers, and members of the general public. Now people in the northern region have the door much closer to them, which they can knock on. Therefore, we believe that our presence here will also help to improve service delivery in the sector,” he said.
Inkosi Ya Makhosi M’mbelwa V, who was the guest of honour at the event, commended MACRA for the development, saying it was a good move because it will help MACRA’s visibility in the northern part of Malawi.
“It is very important for MACRA to be visible in all regions. Everywhere there is listenership, and these people (MACRA) need to be monitoring every corner of the country. So, for them, being in Blantyre alone, it was difficult for them to know what was happening in other regions, but now we understand that their offices have moved to Lilongwe, which is now central,” said M’mbelwa.
He added, “Then the opening of regional offices such as this one will help them to be efficient.”
He asked officials at the newly commissioned office, which is called Zwangendaba House, to be patriotic so that the office should not be an elephant in a room.
“It is very important for the people who will be working here to have that patriotic heart. The office might be here, but if the people are not doing their work, the premises will not be important for us. I would like to urge them to take their job seriously so that, at the end of the day, these premises should serve their purposes,” he appealed.
On his part, Alekeni Menyani of the Board of MACRA said the commissioning of the office in Mzuzu was to ensure that the regulator was closer to people.
“As regulators, we also have duties and functions to make sure that there is universal access to services in line with the Malawi 2063 digitalization policy. Therefore, moving to Mzuzu today and commissioning this (Zwangendaba House), which is a MACRA building, is to make sure that we are efficient and effective to achieve the digital economy,” he said.
The Mayor of Mzuzu City Council, Gift Desire Nyirenda, described the opening of the office in the city as a wonderful development, saying MACRA services will be easily accessed by Mzuzu residents and people in the northern region at large, unlike before.
“This time we have the office of MACRA in Mzuzu, which is a wonderful thing. Currently, we are using the national addressing system (NAS), which requires people to be around. When we have problems, we will just approach the office,” said Nyirenda.
Later on the day, MACRA also launched a new five year strategic plan running from 2022-2027 that will be used to facilitate the organisation’s operation. Among others the strategic plan intends to provide practical, reliable and affordable communication services to meet the peoples demand.
Suleman added that the strategic plan has been developed on a foundation of guidance by the Malawi 2063 vision that is recognising the significant contributions that the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector offers to Malawi’s overall socio-economic development.