Malawi Government says it expects information and communication technology (ICT) services to penetrate every sector of life including health, agriculture and education as the services are vital to the country’s socio-economic development.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, Dr Esmie Kainja was speaking when she presided over this year’s commemoration of ‘Girls in ICT Day’ on Wednesday in Lilongwe.  

She said government is building ICT-related infrastructure such as telecommunication centres, one-stop centres and towers even in rural areas across the country, to increase access to ICT services among girls and for improved mobile phone services network.

“As government, our expectations with increased ICT- skilled community, is to have efficient health facilities through e-health, education at your localities through e-learning and doing trade through e-trade,” she told girls and young ladies who patronized the occasion.

This year’s theme of the event, ‘Girls as Creators of Technology and Online Content’ encourages girls, not only to master ICT skills or increase uptake of ICT services, but also to take the field as a career.

“You girls need to consider pursuing careers in ICT, not just because engineering and technology are very interesting, but also because they lead to careers where you can make a difference,” said the PS.

The commemoration activity attracted scores of young girls from secondary schools such as Likuni Girls (Lilongwe), Dzuka Girls (Lilongwe), Emvuyeni CDSS (Mzimba), Njewa CDSS (Lilongwe) and Mpingu CDSS (Lilongwe) among others.

The girls and young women showcased various activities during the occasion including panel discussion on ICT, quiz competition which was predominantly on ICT terminology, music performances, dancing and comedy.

During a four-member panel discussion, one of the panelists, Plan Malawi Program Officer, Vitumbiko Neba cited absence or unreliable mobile phone network, lack of electricity and lack of knowledge as serious hindrances to increased uptake of ICT services among girls in rural areas.

“Training of more girls in rural areas in ICT would be sustainable as trained girls in the community would be good role models on ICT to others,” she said. 

Plan Malawi has been training girls in ICT in Mzimba, Mulanje and Blantyre, just to mention a few areas, but the organization’s officials say there is need for stakeholders to assist in training more girls in the ICT field.

On its part, government is increasing electricity access in rural areas through Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP). This could hasten efforts to increase access to ICT services in these areas as the youth would be able to use gadgets due to availability of electricity.

Plan Malawi organized the commemoration event, which is annually commemorated on April 4 worldwide, but this year (2019) it was commemorated on April 25 and Malawi commemorated it Wednesday, June 12, 2019.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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