One of the recent key social development activities globally has been the update of social media and internet by various individuals, organizations and governments. To this end, the Government of Malawi, through the Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC) under the Digital Malawi Project (DIGMAP) is implementing the public free Wi-Fi initiative.
The Government is providing free Wi-Fi connectivity to some thirty-two (32) public locations across the country in the following categories: schools, markets, hospitals, airports, and libraries. The initiative is aimed at enhancing easy communication; providing a spate of quality access to e-services; as well as boosting businesses in Malawi.
After launching the free Wi-Fi in 2021, there was a prevalent excitement understandably about the initiative among the various users. However, as time passed, some members of the general public expressed frustrations that the connectivity was not as fast as they would have wanted, while some users cited a scant data pack as another main hurdle encumbering the smooth operation of the facility.
In response to the public outcry, the Government through DIGMAP has increased the public free Wi-Fi connection speed from 512 Kilobits per second (kbps) to 768 kbps.
In an interview, DIGMAP ICT Partnership Analyst Beatrice Kachepa said the upward adjustment of the speed is in line with the Government’s commitment of providing quality public free Wi-Fi services to all Malawians.
Kachepa then branded the adjustment as a key milestone in ensuring that all users are able to leverage the facility so that it serves its intended purposes.
She said: “The facility is very important to Malawians. In this view, the government intends to ensure that the services of facility are satisfactory to all users”.
Apart from increasing the speed, the Government has also increased the free Wi-Fi data pack per device. A user’s device is now able to access a maximum of 1 Gigabyte (GB) per day from the initial 375 Megabytes (MB).
“We have also increased the pack allocation so that it can as well cater for a reasonable amount of communication among Malawians” said Kachepa.
Reacting to the developments, a user of the facility at Blantyre Market, Masulani Maluwa, applauded the Government through the PPPC for its swift action in response to the public’s outcry.
Maluwa said: “Recently, the internet has improved in terms of speed. I can as well spend more hours using it when my mobile data bundle finishes”.
He then concluded by imploring the Government to consider extending the facility to other areas of the market to ensure full coverage. The Government intends to extend the facility in due course especially in some of the beneficiaries’ sites.