The World Bank team, which recently travelled on a project implementation support mission to Malawi, has expressed their satisfaction with achievements made so far in the implementation of the digital skills grants activities under the Government of Malawi’s Digital Malawi Project (DigMap), financed by the World Bank and implemented by the Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC).
The World Bank Task Team Leader for the DigMap project Luda Bujoreanu, in Washington, DC, USA, stated that she was “excited to witness great accomplishments that have been made under the DigMap project, which included providing grants to ten (10) Tech Hubs in Malawi. This initiative aims to promote digital skills among innovators, especially the youth. As Malawi is “a young nation” with a large segment of the total population made up of young people, it is great to see the results of what we could only envision a few years back. This is amazing.” So far, 4,000 youths have been trained through grants to the Tech Hubs in Digital Skills, Mass ICT Literacy and Entrepreneurship. The training, offered through the 10 Tech Hubs supported by the DigMap project, focused on developing high-level digital skills as well as addressing the needs of youngsters living in rural areas who have never touched a computer before, proclaimed Bujoreanu.
The DigMap Project Manager Chimwemwe Matemba hailed the World Bank for providing funding for the two phases of the digital skills development grants. He expressed commitment that the Government of Malawi, through the Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC), will ensure that all planned activities are implemented within the designated period. He noted that “more Tech Hubs have been engaged under Phase 2 of the project.” The first phase of awards under Luntha ndi Chuma comprised of six Tech hubs, namely Dzuka Africa, takenoLab, Mzuzu E-hub, Ntha Foundation, mHub and GrowthAfrica, while the second phase selected four new hubs for the awards, these included NxtGen, Computer Clinic, GreenImpact Technologies and Rydberg. The initiative further provided top up awards to two Tech Hubs, mHub and Mzuzu E-hub, who performed well during Phase 1.
During the World Bank mission, PPPC also provided updates on the project’s progress under the connectivity component which, among other activities, supported setting up free WiFi zones in 30 locations, and connecting government offices to the Local Government Network. The connectivity component of DigMap project has also provided connectivity to over 60 educational institutions through the Malawi Research Education Network (MAREN) which has resulted in local students being able to freely access quality study materials in digital libraries across the world. It was noted that other areas planned to be financed through the DigMap project include the upcoming construction of a green datacentre, the first of its kind in Africa, and providing high speed connectivity to 500 government institutions, including postal offices, and setting up of additional Free WiFi sites across the country.
As part of the mission programme, the World Bank mission team had earlier met the new Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu who was briefed about the World Bank’s initiatives in the country on digitisation. The mission also held talks with officials from the E-government Department in the Ministry of Information, President’s Delivery Unit, and Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA).