Information and Tourism Minister Patricia Kaliati last week  said government is currently looking for a second fixed phone network operator and a third mobile network to bridge the coverage gap in rural areas.

“If you don’t go to rural areas, we will even have a 10th mobile phone network operator because access to information is a fundamental right. If there was competition by now, rural areas should have been well covered,” said Kaliati.

The minister gave an example of her home, Nkando in Mulanje along the Robert Mugabe Highway where, she claimed, mobile phone coverage is so poor that people hop around to access the network signal.

In his remarks, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) acting director-general Mike Kuntiya, whose organisation hosted the workshop, said the Universal Access Policy is important to Malawi because it will set a framework on how ICT services should be provided in the rural areas and how funding for such services could be achieved.

For her part, Macra board chairperson Nellie Nseula said the policy will stipulate the vision and strategies for sustainable provision of ICT services to rural areas.

The World Bank through the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility programme funded the process of the draft policy developed by consultants Intelecon.