>Date: Wed, 25 Jun 1997 18:33:29 -0200
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>From: [log in to unmask] (David Nthengwe)
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>Subject: ACTION ALERT - MALAWI
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>ACTION ALERT - MALAWI
>JUNE 24, 1997
>STATE CLAIMS MONOPOLY OF INTERNET SERVICES
>The Malawi government has turned down applications from private Internet
>Service Providers (ISP) and instead granted one to its own Malawi Post and
>Telecommunications Corporation (MPTC). Government said its action is
>intended to keep internet prices affordable but the private ISP's fear
>government is creating an information monopoly to serve its interests.
>In a joint venture effort between MPTC and an American investor, Comnet,
>the MPTC intends to establish a company yet to be named but which will be
>operational later next month. The MPTC is already in control of all
>telecommunications services in Malawi on which internet depends. It will
>also continue to be in charge of the allocation of internet service
>licenses on behalf of government as well as provide competition to those it
>Private internet service providers fear MPTC will use its position to
>control the market and award licenses only to providers less likely to
>offer it meaningful challenge. They complain for instance, they did not
>know that the frustrations and delays in having their applications
>processed was because the MPTC was itself interested in setting up a
>service provider. The MPTC, the private providers say, has also been
>holding back some information needed by the applicants. The applicants have
>not even been advised on why they have not been successful.
>Partner of Epsilon and Omega, an E-mail Service Provider, Thandi Mbvundula,
>told MISA on June 20 that the MPTC announcement "surprised" many.
>Mbvundula, said for some time now the MPTC has been delaying the opening up
>of the Internet Service market to willing providers and projects such as
>the Sustainable Development Network Programme (SDNP), a United Nations
>Development Programme (UNDP) project.
>UNDP's Programme Officer, Brian Christensen, told MISA June 24, that his
>organisation applied for the Internet licence in August, 1995, but has to
>this day not received any reply. Christensen said other private
>organisations which had applied have similarly not obtained their licences.
>One owner of a service provider, afraid to be named, told MISA June 24,
>"MPTC will probably not say no to applications, but they may not just
>process applications for the channels."
>Speaking to MISA on June 24, MPTC newly appointed chief executive, Michael
>Makawa, however dispelled concerns that MPTC was creating a monopoly
>pointing at already existing private Internet services. Currently, Malawi
>has five e-mail and Internet service providers, namely; Epsilon and Omega,
>University of Malawi (UNIMA), Inter Access, Telecom Consulting - all dial
>out through South Africa at what they describe as "prohibitive costs."
>"Their fear is therefore unfounded," Makawa said.
>Makawa further explained that the government has appointed an independent
>regulatory unit to oversee the activities of posts and telecommunications
>in the country. Its purpose, Makawa said, was to ensure fair play in the
>telecommunications market "and avoid restrictions on applicants... To me,
>this regulatory unit means that we will have competition in the market as
>it will allow other players."
>Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
>Private Bag 13386
>Tel. +264 61 232975, Fax. 248016
>e-mail: [log in to unmask]
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Private Bag 13386
Tel. +264 61 232975, Fax. 248016
e-mail: [log in to unmask]