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BUSINESS REVIEW

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BRIEFS
Import cover at 3.2 months
Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) says the countrys gross official
reserves for the month of April 2015 improved to $677.0 million
from $670.2 million registered in March. At this level, official
reserves represented an import coverage of 3.2 months,
unchanged from that recorded in March 2015, RBM said in its
latest Monthly Economic Report, published on June 30. RBM said
in April there were relatively unchanged foreign exchange
demand and supply conditions. ORAMA CHINAMULUNGU-Staff
Reporter
Kwacha continues to weaken
Malawi kwacha continued to depreciate against currencies of the
countrys trading partners in April despite the opening of tobacco
marketing season, which RBM in its latest Monthly Economic
Report attributed to speculative behaviour of commercial banks in
attempt to rebuild own reserves. The kwacha depreciated
marginally against the US dollar by 0.6 percent to trade at
K440.13 per dollar from K437.64 in March 2015. RBM said the
Malawi kwacha also to trade at K679.48 per Pound Sterling from
K648.32 in March. ORAMA CHINAMULUNGU, Staff Reporter.

PAGE 3: NGO/GOVT TRACK


Cisanet national
technology

conference

to

focuses

on

science,

EMMANUEL MUWAMBA,
CORRESPONDENT
The Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet), a policy advocacy
organisation working on agriculture and food security policy
issues, has announced that its 2015 National Conference will
focus on science and technology for agriculture development.
Cisanet naational director Tamani Nkhono-Mvula said the National
Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held on
29th and 30th July 2015 at the Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe on the
theme; Science and Technology for Agriculture Development.
This years theme builds on last years conference, where we
took stock of our achievements and challenges in the past 50
years of independence and also challenging ourselves on the
vision from the next 50 years, said Nkhono.
One of the issues that came out of the last years conference
was on our ability to embrace science and technology as the
driver of modernization and increasing the productivity of our
agriculture, he added.
Nkhono said Cisanet believes that if we are to have a vision and
roadmap for developing agriculture in Malawi, that vision should
be built around advancements in science and technology as this
will be at the core of agriculture development.

Cisanet has lined up a number of exciting presentations from


renowned speakers who will share their thoughts and policy
recommendations on how Malawi can mainstream science and
technology in the current policy processes but also on the vision
for the agriculture sector in Malawi.
The speakers include Professor Thandika Mkandawire, a former
Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social
Development and the first person to take on the new position of
Chair in African Development at the London School of Economics
(LSE), Professor Richard Mkandawire, Dr Blessings Chinsinga,
Professor Mustafa Hussein, Dr. Wezi Mkwaila, Dr. Stanley Khaila,
Professor Kanyama-Phiri, Dr. Sloans Chimatiro, Professor
Emmanuel Kaunda and Dr Thomas Munthali.
Pic: Tamani Nkhono-Mvula
CAPTION: Science and technology will be at the core of
agriculture development in the country

Zamzam empowers communities in organic manure


making
HOLYCE KHOLOWA,
CORRESPONDENT
Zamzam Foundation says farmers need skills in organic manure
making as manure use can restore soil fertility and boost
agriculture productivity.
In order to boost manure use, Zamzam organised a one day
training of trainers (TOT) workshop in Zomba last week aimed at
drilling lead farmers drawn from Mangochi, Balaka, Zomba and
Blantyre on how they can make organic manure.

Malawis gold and diamond are her rich soils and endless water
resources, hence the needs to prioritise manure made from
resources like dung, ash, maize bran, banana leaves, water,
stones, sand as well as green and dry plants cuttings, Mariam
Khatib, Zamzam organic manure trainer said.
Khatib encouraged the farmers to establish vegetable gardens
within the compounds of their households to progress nutrition in
their homes.
Ajilu Kalitendere, the foundations project officer, said fertilizer is
expensive and urged them to migrate to organic manure use.
The benefit of organic manure is that apart from adding fertility
to the soil it also fixes the soil structure, she added.
Pic: Holyce Kholowa
CAPTION: Zamzam trainees: Malawis gold and diamond are her
rich soils

CADECOM distributes 55 push-bicycles to Mdeka lead


farmers
MEEKNESS SIMFUKWE, STAFF WRITER
Catholic Development Commission in Malawi (CADECOM) last
week distributed 55 push bicycles to mdeka lead farmers relieving
them form transport burden that they have been striving to get lid
off.
Diocesan secretary of Blantyre diocese Peter Pangani said
cadecom came to the rescue of the lead farmers following the
occurrences of 2013-2014 green seasons whereby the area was

attacked with army worm, prolonged dry spells and flash floods
which left the farmers with nothing in their fields.
In the first place as cadecom we came into this area following
the occurrences of 2013-2014 green season whereby there was
an army worm attack in this area and also there were prolonged
dry spells and also some flash floods in some areas so we came to
assist in order to minimize the suffering of the people because
they had lost their crops, property as well as livestocks. said
Pangani
Pangani said CADECOM has been working with the help from
USAID in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS). He said
they adopted the concept which is being advocated by the
government which is the lead farmer concept.
we have been working on a project known as livelihoods and
enhanced agricultural productivity with funding from the USAID in
partnership with the catholic relief services and then amongst the
extensions are service delivery and then we also adopted the
concept which is being advocated by the government which is the
lead farmer concept so we identified a number of lead farmers in
the area so that they can complement extension service delivery
in the area. He said
Mphatso Kafuwa Extension Methodology Officer said as the
ministry of agriculture they are facing a lot of challenges
especially with the lead farmers in terms of mobility and the
provision of the bicycles is a solution to their part of problems.
Kafuwa said As ministry of agriculture we are facing a lot of
challenges especially with the lead farmers mobility because one
lead farmer is suppose to cover a couple of kilometers so they
were facing challenges to reach out to other farmers so with this
bicycles it will be easier for to them to go out to their locations or
designated areas.
Kafuwa added that they cannot reach their targets with the
donation of the bicycles alone and she called in for other
organizations and stakeholders to help.

We cannot reach the target with just this donation we are hoping
that it will at least help us to reach a certain milestone but we
cannot reach our target because for lead farmers we want a
section to have five lead farmers and cadecom cannot do it alone
because they are working with 94 lead farmers but they have
distributed the bicycles to only 55 lead farmers. So if there are
any other organizations or stakeholders who can help they are
most welcome. Said Kafuwa

Constituents demand clinics in Mchinji


AYAMBA KANDODO,
CORRESPONDENT
People of Mchinji South West Constituency said pregnant women
are failing to access antenatal health services because there is no
clinic in the area.
The area has no clinic and heavily pregnant women have to walk
a distance of about 21 kilometres to access medical services, a
situation which fuels lead to more preventable deaths, Village
head Zulu has said.
Zulu was speaking on the sidelines of a field monitoring visit, the
National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust organised in
Mchinji last week.
Zulu described the situation as worrying as his area is recording
more maternal deaths.
Our area is the most neglected, the roads are impassable as a
result there are no transport is available to facilitate easy
movement of people and goods, said Zulu.

The chief appealed to government to build a clinic in the area. He


has since mobilised his subjects to mould bricks and they have
started building a clinic but the resources are not enough.

CENTRESPREAD
ECONOMY SUFFERING AS NETWORK SLEEPS
MARTHA CHIRAMBO
STAFF REPORTER
Lilly Nyoni has no kind words for mobile operators in the country.
Nyoni and her colleague Memory Chirwa eke a living selling
mobile airtime cards at the heart of Mzuzu City, but of late their
take home cash has dwindled because of low sales as a direct
result of poor telecommunications network and outages.
Network outage affects the airtime credit business a lot, Nyoni
says.
When mobile users are frustrated they do not buy airtime, which
means less take home money for us, Nyoni told Business News.
She says erratic and poor telecommunications network has over
the past two months negatively impacted their livelihoods.
According to Nyoni and Chirwa, life gets even harder if there is
network problems for longer periods of time as their returns can
fall from an average of K20 000 to a mere K6000 [a day].
Nyoni says, for example, her darkest day was on June 1 2015
when she could not sell any airtime the entire day as for close to
ten hours users had no connection as two mobile operators TNM

and Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) had a network


outage.
Telecommunication network outages, often blamed on sabotage
or undersea cable breakages are becoming a norm in Malawi.
Banks have been hit hard with auto-teller machines (ATMs) out of
service most of the time due to network outages.
Mobile money clients too have not been spared the crisis.
But coupled with a recent SMS and data price hike, Malawians
consumers are angry.
Some told Business News that high tariffs they pay, the do not
expect poor service as is the case now and that they have been
left with no choice but to take to the streets to protest over poor
services in the country.
Malawians feels they are getting a raw deal from mobile
telecommunications service providers in a country where using a
mobile phone is the most expensive at 56.2 percent of average
monthly earning according to a February 2015 BBC report.
Billy Mayaya, one such irritated consumer and organiser of the
planned protests, told the media there is a general outcry that
the telecommunications services are becoming prohibitive in
terms of costs, network availability and quality assurance.
Economy suffering
Nelson Mkandawire, an economist and former chairperson of
Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) says when the
telecommunications network sleeps the economy suffers as
communication enhances and lubricates trade.
[These days] we depend on mobile money, the internet and
mobile banking to do some financial transactions, therefore, when
we experience poor network all this seize to function,

Mkandawire explains.
He says delayed communications that investors experience when
faced with a bad network affects decisions around trade and
productivity.
It is a mockery to the customer to see these mobile service
providers posting huge profits to their accounts while failing to
give the best to a customer who is being charged hugely without
considering the hiccups they are facing, Mkandawire laments.
He says time has come for telecommunication companies in the
country to give out their best to their customers who have helped
them grow over the years.
The Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture Kondwani
Nankhumwa agrees with Mkandawire saying network problems
are a threat to the countrys security as well.
Not only does the economy suffer but also security of the nation
is compromised in cases of mobile network breakdowns, warns
Nakhumwa.
Equally concerned with poor network and consistent outages is
the regulator, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority
(Macra).
Andrew Kumbatira, Macra director general thinks the mobile
operators indeed should do better, but is quick to point out that
in some cases, the network challenges are beyond the control of
the operators.
For instance, the June 1, outage was caused by vandals who
tampered with the optic cablesleaving no choice to the service
providers, explains Kumbatira.
Power outages
Macra also blames the persistent power outages that the country
experiences as another huge factor that burdens the

telecommunications industry.
Power outages build up as costs and eats onto [mobile
operators] revenues, Kumbatira argues.
For instance, when there is a power outage, they run on gen
sets, which are expensive to run Kumbatira adds.
Kumbatira says all Macra insists on is that the mobile operators
should providers alerts to their customers when their system is
down.
On backup, the Macra is not upfront, but says the mobile service
providers license has it, as one of the requirements.
Back up
TNM says they have a redundant network which acts as backup
when main network experiences problems. The mobile operator
says has two control centres in the cities of Blantyre and
Lilongwe.
TNM has an active redundant network setup that automatically
routes traffic to the redundant route if there is a problem on the
other route of the network, Limbani Nsapato, TNMs public
relations and sponsorship manager told Business News.
He explains that the mobile telecommunications operator also has
in place a network monitoring centre (NMC) in Lilongwe where a
team monitors the network performance around the clock in real
time and is able to detect any problems to the network across
Malawi for immediate intervention.
If Blantyre is down then Lilongwe takes over, but the challenge
that we are facing is that vandals are continuously vandalising
MTL cables, which Lilongwe and Mzuzu to an extent rely on,
Nsapato explains.

Explaining the network outages, Nsapato says


telecommunications infrastructure by nature will sometimes not
function according to plan, which may be due to issues with
power supply or other generic faults inherent with telecoms
everywhere.
He says the company has a robust system to monitor the system
quality and availability and rectifies any faults as soon as they are
identified.
However, as you may be aware in some areas TNM relies on fibre
network and the recent outage in the northern region was a result
of theft and vandalism of fibre cables which by sheer coincidence
happened in isolation but coincided and affected all routes at the
same time, he explains.
Nsapato calls upon the communities and the general public to be
vigilant in helping operators to protect telecommunication
equipment against vandalism and theft.
Airtel Malawis public relations and corporate communications
manager Edith Tsilizani also says the company has backup system
at Disaster Recovery Centres located in Blantyre and Lilongwe.
She says the Blantyre centre has two locations while the capital
city one has three, these ensure less impact in times of network
failure.
We, however, have plans to set up a complete recovery plan in
the near future, Tsilizani says.
High demand
According to Macra there has been a big increase in the number
of mobile users since the introduction of the mobile phones in
1995 from 38, 202 users in 2000 to 5 345 375 by end 2013.
While the combined teledensity for fixed and mobile services
currently stand at 39 percent.

The use of mobile phones has also increased from the basic voice
and SMS services to include data services like the internet which
most consumers complain to be slow.
Clara Mulonya, Macras communications officer says value added
services like mobile money (Airtel Money and TNM Mpamba) have
spurred economic activity between urban and rural which is
enough evidence that the use of the mobile phone is not only
restricted to basic services but can as well be extended to other
services benefiting all sectors of the economy.
Mulonya says the banking sector has also not been left out as
evidenced by the mobile banking.
Additionally, mobile phones have also been used to disseminate
and collect health information through adapted mobile
applications as well as being used in other areas of information
dissemination emergency and relief services, she says.
It is therefore a fact that consumers which include organisations
and government are more and more relying on mobile or online
systems as the major means to deliver information and services
to the general public.
To them, in so doing they believe that they will always get
through; therefore the failure or disruption of the service has the
opposite effect.

PAGE 8: ANALYSIS