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Government institutions in Thyolo, Mulanje, Chikwawa and Nsanje applaud the Digital Malawi Project

Government institutions in Thyolo, Mulanje, Chikwawa and Nsanje districts have applauded the ongoing installation of free internet connection in public institutions across the country through the Digital Malawi Project.

Steve Martin Tiwisa is an ICT programmer at Thyolo District Hospital, where Wi-Fi installation has been completed and is fully functional. He testifies that previously, internet access at the hospital was high cost and unreliable, which posed challenges when it came to sharing data with other stakeholders. He says the current connection provided by the government through this project is very stable and freely accessible to all staff, allowing for seamless communication between different departments.

“We anticipate great improvements as this free internet will help facilitate fast and reliable communication with our partners with whom we share data on malaria and ART among others,” Tiwisa said.

The Director of Health and Social Services for Thyolo District Council, Dr Arnold Jumbe hailed the connectivity and commended government's efforts in advancing progress through digitalization. He said through the initiative, they are saving a lot of money as it provides readily available access and simplifies communication with partners. Additionally, guests can also access the service while waiting for assistance.

"Prior to this installation, we heavily relied on individual resources, which often hindered our work. There were instances where we had to seek internet access elsewhere and share data physically but now, we are reducing both time wastage and communication costs. We are able to dedicate more time to assisting patients and providing them with better service.

As the world is going digital, we too are transitioning to a paperless environment, for instance, in the past, we had to physically move from one department to another to access data from the radiology department. However, now scans and x-rays can be effortlessly transferred through our systems and easily accessed using the government Wi-Fi," said Dr Jumbe.

Project Manager for Bengo Net, Dickson Daelo, said all installations in Thyolo have successfully been completed and the staff are already benefiting from it in 7 institutions including the Court, Prison, Ministry of Labour, District Commissioner, District Education Manager, District Hospital and District Health Offices. He further said the connectivity can be extended to include patients and other locals around the hospital.

"We have seen a significant improvement in access to government services, as confirmed by our colleagues at the hospital. Previously, hospital staff had to travel to other buildings to access internet services, but since the installation, they can now directly access government systems such as HRMIS," he said.

Staff at Mulanje District Hospital expressed their appreciation for the free internet services installed at the institution. According to Felix Monia, Administrator at Mulanje District Hospital, the internet is being utilized to carry out various administrative processes and share important health information.

Site visits to Chikwawa and Nsanje Magistrate Courts, District Education Offices, post office, and district hospitals also revealed that network infrastructure installations are complete, and the contractor is finalizing configurations, sensitization, and providing support to address any arising challenges regarding the free internet services.

Chikwawa Magistrate Court Administrator, Martin Musopole said that reliable public internet is important for accessing old cases online for making judgment references. He said reliable internet will also help reduce congestion in the office, as they will no longer need to store many hard copies of reports or old cases for reference.

Principal Secretary for Ministry of Information and Digitalization, Hetherwick Njati said the project will enhance efficiency in the delivery of government services, particularly through system interconnectivity. He stated that this approach would reduce expenditures for government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) as they transition to a paperless system.

The digital connectivity component of Digital Malawi project is intended to increase access to connectivity nationwide, by Connecting all public institutions in the country and addressing connectivity gaps for government, higher education, and private sector in the provision of e-services.