Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Malawi - Time for strong and united leadership

We are in a crisis. We are going through a very tough economic period. However that is not the only problem rocking the warm heart of Africa. We are a divided nation in many areas. There is hatred among us, self righteousness, tribalism and everyone is concerned about his ideas.

Reports coming from our colleges, football stadiums, social networking sites shows a nation on war with itself. There are demonstrations everywhere. People are demonstrating on petty issues from water shortages to stadium closures.

This calls for a strong leadership. We need a leader to unite all of us. To speak to us with authority and rise above party politics. Politics has divided us very much. We are now identified by our party colors or where we come from.

The economic challenges that we are facing can better be understood if the masses are well communicated. Challenging or defensive tones can only make people lose trust in the leadership. The efforts that the current leadership is putting on economic recovery are well appreciated but they are rather defeated by the positioning for 2014 that almost every politician is doing.

The public is not spared from the lack of direction and inspiration that the leadership is showing. It seems nobody cares! Look at the comments you get from people in the online forums. Insults, angry comments and unpalatable words coming out of respectable people.

Just log in on Facebook, Twitter or Nyasa Times to check the extent of our moral decay. Nothing matters anymore. Honesty, truth and integrity are no longer valued. Lies are broadcast right on our televisions, radio stations and newspapers without remorse.

The institutions which are supposed to preserve our moral integrity are not spared either. Churches are no longer giving us the hope we need. Politics has taken grip of our collar men. If they are not quarreling amongst themselves, then they are offering their wrong and misplaced advice to the politicians.

We need a national healing. We need leadership that can steer the nation to a proper direction. Patriotism can only be encouraged by those who love they country more than their stomachs or their families. We will not be losing money to corruption or giving contracts to our friends and folks.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bar Camp Malawi 2012 - Day One

Developers and ICT enthusiasts from across Lilongwe had to brave the hot October sun, miss the breath taking match between Malawi and Ghana, and gathered for the annual BarCamp Malawi workshop.

BarCamp Malawi is international network of user-generated conferences (or unconferences). They are open, participatory, workshop events whose content is provided by participants.

This year's event has been sponsored by Google Technologies, Skyband Malawi, Baobab Health, Ultinets, DataCom and ITS Enterprises; and will run up to 14th October 2012.

As an ICT passionate blogger i managed to capture some interesting moments:

the venue, Sunbird Capital Hotel, Mulanje Room

One of the Software Developers, Kondwani Chimatiro, making a presentation on ICT incubation. Kondwani is the co-founder of Ctech and is also behind a Malawian search engine,cfinder.

'i think.....' Moderator, Precious and Lorraine sharing ideas at tea break.

Fresh from the UK, Elizabeth Kalitsiro shares what she learnt after taking part in the Velocity Conference 2012. She also took time to inspire girls to take software development seriously. Eliza also facilitated the start of ladies in tech group to start meeting shortly.

Training, training and more training!! Patricia Malunga from TechnoBrain New Horizon making a presentation on the courses they offer.

Boster Sibande making a presentation on using bio-registration.

Some of the participants.

There were also presentations from Baobab Health Trust on Touch Screen tool kits presented by Blessings Mhango and IPv6 presentation by Bram Fudzulani. Chimwemwe Kachaje challenged the participants to think of using robotics in his moving presentation on robotics. Yamiko Msosa also discussed about the fastest growing market of Android apps. He even presented figures to challenge developers to try the android apps market.

The highest moment of the workshop came when Bram Fudzulani (the Security Evangelist) led a practical SSL passwords sniffing. Participants were led through a ethical hacking exercise to learn how vulnerable our networks are.

BarCamp Malawi 2012 will continue tommorow from 9am.

You can follow these people on twitter to get real time updates of the workshop: @kristungati, @Loshaq, @ymsosa, @mulita5, @madeinmalawi, @soksmania, @Kalitsiro

You can also search these hashtags on Twitter #BarcampMW2012, #GDGMW

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mobile Blogging

After many attempts am finally able to publish my blogposts and pictures from my mobile phone. Am now able to write and take pictures anytime and anywhere.

This will improve my blog post frequency which was slowly decreasing because I was hardly at home or in the office.

Am now using Blogger for Android app which I have downloaded into my Samsung Galaxy Pocket GT S5300. Both the phone and the app are doing wonders and will greatly help my blogging experience.

Hope you  continue enjoying my posts as they will now be posted in real time.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

JB and Company are ignoring ICT at their own peril

I was going through the final communique from the just ended National Dialogue on the Economy and was surprised to see that nothing was discussed regarding ICT. Am one of the people who believes that ICT can tranform the economy given the attention it deserves. However our leaders think otherwise!!! I think this is a big mistake and we will pay heavily for it.

Here is the final communique sourced from the Nyasa Times:


Conference observed that:-

1.The MGDS as formulated prior to the coming in of the current Government had too many priorities, and noted that there is need to focus on few priorities that are pro-growth, represent quick wins, and are highly effective;

2.There is need to focus on sectors that can generate employment; and

3.The identification of Agriculture, Tourism, Energy, Mining and Infrastructure met this criteria.

B. Improving business environment

The conference observed that:-

1.There is urgent need for Malawi to expedite the process of simplifying and streamlining processing of business permits, work permits, and visas to facilitate economic growth, and thereby allowing private sector to develop;

2.Access land is a major hindrance to foreign direct investment in Malawi; and

3. There is urgent need to establish a predictable, transparent and seamless incentives regime.

C. Political will for credible reforms

The Conference cited poor economic governance as a major contributor to Malawi’s low position on the economic development scale. The conference therefore noted that:-

1. There is need to implement and execute reforms that are credible; and assure the private sector that government is serious about and committed to creating a conducive environment to re-establish its economic reputation;

2. There is lack of strategies and coordination to translate policy into action between and among Government departments;

3. There is need for zero-tolerance on corruption.

D. The role of cooperating and development partners

The conference observed that:-

1. There is need for Government to initiate, develop and own a development ideology which should also be owned by and communicated to its population and thereafter secure donor buy-in;

2. Malawi needs to identify and develop projects that will gradually reduce donor dependence overtime;

3. Malawi needs to guide donors on which sectors they should invest; and

4. Malawi should engage donors to diversify their investment from basic education to tertiary education, especially skills training.

E. Regional integration and international trade

The conference acknowledged that there are a number of efforts that are being implemented to attract international trade in Malawi. The conference, however, noted that:-

1. There is need to create a conducive environment including:
-Reducing non-tariff barriers;
-Reducing period taken to access services and obtain licences such as registering a company; and

-Improving regulatory environment and infrastructure to facilitate regional and international trade.

2. Malawi should consider exploring trade facilitation with selected strategic partners notwithstanding its engagement in SADC and COMESA trade protocols;

3. There is need to prioritise and focus on a few strategic transport


F. The role of SMEs

The conference noted that there is need for Malawi to recognise the important role of Small and Medium Enterprises in job creation. To this end, the conference urged Government to promote entrepreneurial skills and develop a well-articulated delivery strategy for economic growth and job creation.

G. Monetary Policy

The conference acknowledged the current positive developments in engendering the independence of the monetary policy committee of the Reserve Bank of Malawi. However, the conference was mindful of the challenges encountered in coordination and balancing between the exercise of monetary policy by the Reserve Bank of Malawi on the one hand and the Ministry of Finance, on the other.

H. Agriculture

The conference observed that Malawi will continue to depend on agriculture as the mainstay of its economy in the short to medium term. The conference, therefore, noted that:-

1. Diversification and up-scaling of production of non-traditional crops such as coffee, rice, sunflower, wheat and legumes are a necessity;

2. There is urgent need to review the Strategic Crops Act as it disadvantages some crops and brings distortions in the industry; and

3. There is need to focus on and encourage large-scale commercial farming by easing procedures for obtaining land.

I. Tobacco industry

1. The conference noted that the marketing mechanism for tobacco, that is (auction system), does not guarantee stability of prices and volumes in the industry.

2. The conference further recognised that in the short term, while the auction system couldcontinue, Malawi should seriously consider adopting (Integrated Production System) which will promote contract farming;

3. The conference proposed the creation of a stakeholders forum, namely Tobacco Council, to foster dialogue for the proposed reforms in the industry. This will overcome vested interest that hinders reform of the industry;

4. The conference recognises the challenge that the industry poses to the environment and recommends parallel programmes that are aimed at improving aforestation.

J. Tourism industry

While recognising that tourism is increasingly contributing to the GDP, the conference noted that the industry faces many challenges. The conference therefore recognised the need to:-

1. Restock game reserves and national parks;
2. Attract more direct, cost effective international flights into Malawi thereby promoting competition;
3. Decisively resolve issues surrounding Air Malawi;
4. Improve infrastructure including roads, utilities (water and power) and airports;
5. Simplify the system of visa issuance for tourists;
6. Improve tourism investment climate, including establishment of tourism industry board; and
7. Broden the tax incentives for investment in the industry.

K. Energy sector

The Conference:-

1. Expressed concern over the intermittent supply of electricity and the negative impact this has on industry and commerce;

2. Took note that there have been efforts to establish new hydro stations such as the Kapichira II project, the MCC accountproject and the interconnection with Mozambique;

3. Observed the need to manage the demand in the industry by encouraging economic usage of electricity, including usage of energy saver bulbs;

4. Noting the impact that the interconnector project with Mozambique has in the short term, the conference encouraged that the same efforts should be initiated with Zambia and encouraged Government to explore establishment of coal generated electricity;

5. Acknowledged the growing technology in renewable energy, and hence, urged Government to promote investment in wind, solar and other renewable energy sources;

6. Applauded Government’s decision to liberalize tariffs in the sector, hence, the conference was optimistic that the support from Millennium Challenge Compact would hasten the restructuring of the legal framework, management and reduction in transmission losses.

L. Mining sector

The conference:-

1. Acknowledged that Malawi is richly endowed with mineral resources, including uranium, bauxite, heavy sands, silicon, niobium, coal, tantalum and graphite.

2. Recognised that investment in mining requires long term commitment and demands a lot of infrastructure such as electricity, water and roads.

3. Observed the need for capacity for concession negotiations, ability to abide to contractual obligations, and a predictable legal regime for conflict resolution.

M. Malawians in diaspora

The conference noted significant potential of Malawians in diaspora to provide foreign exchange, skills and capital transfer. The conference was informed that Government has set up a diaspora desk in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is in the process of developing terms of reference for the establishment a department responsible for diaspora affairs.


The conference acknowledged that the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy remains the overarching reference document for the development agenda. However, the conference observed that the MGDS priorities as originally formulated are not focused, and therefore not able to realise quick development results. The conference, therefore recommends that Government narrows down its priorities to say, three to five.

- The conference noted the need for political will to carry through the proposed reforms. The conference, therefore, congratulated the Government for the bold reforms undertaken by the current administration. The conference urged the leadership to sustain the momentum at all levels of decision making.

- The conference recommends that each of those sectors identify few key strategic projects that will drive economic growth in the short and medium term.

- The conference recommends that the creation of the office responsible for diaspora affairs be expedited. This should be responsible for taping into expertise and facilitate remittances from the diaspora.

- The conference recommends that Government should put in place measures to develop human capital to enhance realisation of this road map.

- The conference recommends that Government should enhance coordination and harmonization of Government policies and implementation mechanisms.

- The conference recommends that Government should develop a framework for resource mobilisation.

- The Conference recommends that Government should renew its commitment to fight corruption in order to improve the ease of doing business.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mobile Banking Innovations - FMB Mobile

There is nothing i hate like spending hours and hours in a banking hall waiting to transfer money or to simply deposit cash. That's why i have always liked to use my mobile phone in making these transactions. In my quest to find the best bank which has an easy to use and user friendly mobile banking innovation, i have come across the FMB Mobile.

I opened a savings account at Limbe Leaf Tobacco company in Kanengo last week through one Direct Sales Agent, Queen Molande. I had gone to work on a machine at the Auction Floors so i happened to have 10 minutes to spare. Those ten minutes were enough to open an account and register to probably one of the best mobile banking innovation, FMB Mobile.

What is FMB Mobile?

FMB Mobile is a convenient way of accessing your FMB bank account using your mobile phone. You can easily manage your account from the comfort of your home, office or anywhere else through your mobile phone. Registration is simple, fast and free.

I registered and got confirmation in one day!

With FMB Mobile you manage your FMB Fast Account, FMB First Cash or Makwacha Account with your mobile phone for services like your account balance, mini statements, money transfers, bill payment or airtime top-up for your phone or any other phone. All that 24-hours per day, 7 days per week. You only have to visit any FMB Branch or agency if you wish to make a deposit into your account. People can even credit your account from their own FMB Account using FMB Mobile.

Key FMB Mobile services

-Balance inquiry

-Mini statement(Your last four transaction will be displayed on your phone or sent as an SMS to your phone).

-Mobile airtime top-up ( you can instantly top-up units for your own or other mobile phones (available to TNM and Airtel networks).

-Bill payments (Water and Electricity Bills)

-DSTV Subscribtion

- Money Transfer
From any other of your FMB accounts.
FMB accounts of others; you can even pay a shop owner or taxi driver who will get an SMS that you have paid!

Remittance (Ziri M’manja)

Another special mention should to go this great innovation!

With this service, one can transfer money to anyone, anytime, anywhere in Malawi even to those who do not have a bank account. All they do is receiving an sms with some digits which can be used to withdraw money on an ATM even without an ATM card!

FMB Mobile registration is absolutely free and the service fees are charged to the account and not the mobile phone. Meaning that you can still access FMB Mobile even when your cellphone has not credit!

You can get more information from their website.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Making a living out of Lilongwe River self made bridges

It is a useless river to those who simply pass it everyday.It is one of the dirtiest rivers around and no meaningful business can come out of it. But for Dalitso Chimwaza it is where they earn their living. Chimwaza and several other friends earn a living from collections they make on a wooden brige they constructed across Lilongwe River.

"We get everything we need in life for doing business on this river" he said. People pay 15 kwacha just to cross each of the several bridges on Lilongwe River.

'People coming from the other part of the city wanting to go Tsoka Market have to cross the river. It is a long distance to use the road and cross the normal bridge so they are left with no means but to pass through here" happily said Chimwaza. He claims that they go home with thousands of kwacha at the end of the day.

I counted four bridges ran by dfferent groups of people who are always busy collecting money and giving back changes to their customers. Some people can pass through the bridges several times each day. The bridges are made out of long blue gum trees and planks sourced from the nearby market.

For the customers it is a very convinient way of going to the market as it helps them cut the distance.

"It is easier to access the market if we use these bridges because we save time instead of crossing through Lilongwe Bridge. We used to pay 10 kwacha before devaluation but now they have adjusted the price," said one woman who had just crossed the bridge.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Malawi President is on Twitter!!!

Thank You Malawi! was the very first tweet from a Malawian President ever! President Mrs Joyce Banda posted her first tweet on 10th April, 3 days after assuming the presidency. Since then she has only managed to post one more tweet.

President Banda joins few other African leaders who are using the social networking site to engage their followers. The most popular African leaders on Twitter are John Atta Mills of Ghana, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, South AFrican President Jacob Zuma, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Paul Kagame has 64, 617 followers. Zambian President, Micheal Sata's twitter account is protected.

Amongst the world leaders, Barack Obama's account remains the most popular Twitter account with more than 16 Million followers according to an article by the Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

Madame Joyce Banda is also maintaining a personal website with a link to a page to her People's Party. She can also be found on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

67 days of a Binguless Malawi

It has been a roller coaster ride for the warm heart of Malawi in the past 67 days since the demise of the mighty Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika. Alot has been done and undone by the 'new' regime that took over from the fallen African son. Things have been moving too fast to the extent that this blog could not keep up with he pace of events. Information flow was and is still not stable yet as it was in the past months. Fancy you can hear of a purported change in government positions from mere people even days before the official announcement. Rumours have been in constant supply in the past 67 days even more than the nearly 8 years of Professor Mutharika's rule. What is worrying me most is that most of these rumours prove to be true. Somebody ought to tighten the grip on the information flow!

However there are several issues worthy mentioning on this blog. It took me time of compile these issues because of their sensitivity and how they keep on changing with the pasaage of time.

Exit Bingu, Enter JB

This was long overdue! Most of us wanted this to happen early last year but fate had its on way of playing out the power card. Not that i joined those who celebrated Bingu's departure but the guy was gone, no amount of grief would bring him back. Much as i dint like the way he was eliminated, change was necessary so i had to look to the new leadership. However there is need to clear out the gray areas surrouding his death. He was the President, right, so we all need to know what happened to chitsulo cha njanji when he died whether on 5th, 6th or 7th. The family can sit back and wait for the findings or they can even contribute to make it easier for those assigned to make the findings.

Midnight Six

I watched the senseless press conference these former ministers held on this night and i have been replaying it several times on youtube to get the understanding behind the statement. I have come up with one conclusion, you can still be a political underweight even after playing politics for a long time. If the midnight six and company wanted to play out against the vice president, they needed strong brains and great thinkers to be able to twist the law in their favour. The crap they gave us that night could not hold any water. Even a layman like me could not bring that argument. What baffles me is why these people are still walking scot free! By the time the commission of enquiry will bring out the results, mercy and forgiveness will have taken over our President's heart!

Cabinet, Lipenga, MRA, defections to PP and stuff

Why is Lipenga still heading the Finance Ministry. If we hated the past regime is because of its financial performace and poor gorvanance and human rights record. So to retain the man who was at the helm of Mutharika's economy is not only an insult to Malawians but also a recipe for failure! No wonder the guy had the audacity to stand tall and expose some of the things they were using to sex up budget figures!

The cabinet is fine but we all know that it was not chosen on merit but based on party lines to beef up support for the People's Party. Some of the people chosen were put in right positions but lets wait and see how they will perform in the two years they have. We have seen well qualifed ministers behaving akwardly in the previous cabinets because of pressure from their political masters.

Sometimes i think like am the only one who has not joined the PP! Everyone is like PP, PP, PP. Men we have over 40 political parties in Malawi cant you support these others? A healthy democracy needs strong parties and strong parties needs strong players. One other reason why Mutharika and company grew wings is because of the majority we gave him in 2009. I remember Bingu used to brag about this in most of his rallies. So we make the mistakes of heapig the same majority on PP.

Greed is one reason almost each and every MP is dishing his party to join the PP. Yes, they will say my constituets have told me to join PP when in actual sense they are protecting their business interests. Worse still some of these dumped their parties a few hours after the death of Bingu. I laughed whe i heard one former cabinet minister who had just come out of the nocturnal 'cabinet' meetings, went straight on air to say his consituents have sent him to join PP. I was like when did he consult his consituents!

Bold President or Western Puppet?

Madame President have made several bold decisions in the 67 days or she has been forced to make these decisions depending on which side of the coin you look at it. It is good for any country to have a position on international issues but these positions should be carefully scrutinised before announcements and proper consultations should take place. The previous leaders (some are still there) acted like they were more Malawian than the rest of us. They liked to play god in every situation even those regarding the masses. So in making these decisions make sure we are heard.

Madam Preident and company need to be reminded that they will be judged by how their decisions will affect Malawians. They may make bold steps which will make westerners happy by have effcts on Malawians. I have also to remind the readers that Professor Muntharika was in good books of these donors before things lost track. I remember how he convinced them to forgive our debts in 2006!!

I like the way the hosting of African Union and the purported arrest of al Bashir summit has played out. I cant hide the fact that i badly wanted to see the drama of arresting al Bashir at the Kamuzu International Airport and detaining him at Lumbadzi Police Station and later at Maula Prison waiting for Louis Morino Ocampo and the ICC crew to send the chartered plane. But the effects of all these could have been devastating to the Malawians than the few millions we have lost in missed businesses opportunities.

By the way whats the position of the new government on our relationship with China?

Monday, May 14, 2012

$1 Million African News Innovation Challenge

Africa’s first major contest designed to promote the development of digital media products and innovations is now accepting applications.

African News Innovation Challenge (ANIC) will provide grants from $12,500 to $100,000 for the best projects aimed at strengthening and transforming African news media. The contest is modeled on the highly successful Knight News Challenge in the United States. Grantees will also receive technical advice, startup support and one-on-one mentoring from the world’s top media experts.

Of particular interest are proposals that improve data-based investigative journalism, audience engagement, mobile news distribution, data visualization, new revenue models and workflow systems.

The African Media Initiative (AMI), Africa’s largest association of media owners and operators, announced the contest last November as part of a pan-African initiative to spur digital experimentation and technology-driven projects and startups.

“African media have a tremendous opportunity to leapfrog the business disruption faced by media in Europe and the U.S.,” says AMI chief executive Amadou Mahtar Ba. “The growing reach of mobile networks and improving Internet access is beginning to reshape the media landscape in Africa. We believe this competition will help African news organizations stay ahead of the curve.”

Contest partners include Omidyar Network, Google, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the U.S. State Department, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

“Omidyar Network is delighted to be supporting the African News Innovation Challenge,” said Stephen King, partner at Omidyar Network. “Across the continent we are seeing innovative ways in which technology is providing people with greater access to information. This challenge is a great opportunity for journalists, entrepreneurs and technologists to join forces and help enable the African media to hold their leaders to account.”

Digital strategist Justin Arenstein is managing the initiative as part of his work with the AMI and International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C.


Entries must be submitted to the ANIC website by midnight (Central African Time) on July 10, 2012.


Proposals may be submitted by news pioneers from anywhere in the world, but entries must have an African media partner who will help develop and test the innovation. Projects that are designed for Africa will stand a better chance of receiving support.


ANIC is seeking new ways to create, discuss and share news and make quality journalism sustainable. This could include new revenue or production models, new ways to gather, produce or distribute news. Ideas that can be scaled up across the continent or replicated elsewhere are of particular interest. Preference will be given to ideas that solve bottlenecks facing Africa’s media.


Winning projects will be selected by an ANIC panel of judges, following public voting and a review by an international jury.

About ICFJ

The International Center for Journalists is a non-profit organization that advances quality journalism worldwide. Its programs combine the best professional standards with the latest digital innovations. ICFJ believes that independent, vigorous media are crucial in improving the human condition.

About AMI

The African Media Initiative is the continent’s largest umbrella association of African media owners, senior executives and other industry stakeholders. AMI’s mandate is to serve as a catalyst for strengthening African media by building the tools, knowledge resources and technical capacity for African media to play an effective public interest role in their societies. This mandate includes assisting with the development of professional standards, financial sustainability, technological adaptability and civic engagement.

About Google Inc.

Google’s innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top Web property in all major global markets. Google's mission in Africa is to make the Internet an integral part of every day life in Africa, by increasing its relevance and usefulness, eliminating access barriers for potential users, and developing products that are meaningful for countries in the region. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more information, visit http://www.google.com/africa, see our Africa Blog, http://google-africa.blogspot.com/ or follow us on Twitter twitter.com/googleafrica

About Omidyar Network

Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $500 million to for-profit companies and non-profit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including financial inclusion, entrepreneurship, property rights, consumer Internet, mobile and government transparency. To learn more, visit www.omidyar.com.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Malawi Posts Corporation's Fast Cash Money Transfer

I never thought that i will set my foot in a post office again! I had altogether given up the idea of writing letters with the advent of new technologies. However the past three months has seen me going to various post offices over 10 times. All these times i was there to send or receive money through the Fast Cash Money Transfer.

Sending and receiving money has never been this easier! This service has won the hearts of many Malawians especially from the rural areas and students who cannot afford the luxuries of gracing the commercial banks. Post offices are strategically located in all the districts of Malawi and are serving the rural folks efficiently.

Fast Cash Money Transfer is an initiative of Cash For Africa and is operating in many African countries. As an agent, Malawi Posts Corporation is doing its best to make this service successful despite some challenges faced.


Network - This is one biggest challenge that Fast Cash is facing. Most of countries post offices are deep in remote areas where maintaining a network is a very daunting task. Since the service involves communication through computers over a network, it some times slows down the process of sending or receiving money.

Electricity blackouts - This is a song everyone in Malawi knows by now. Without electricity no transaction takes place. This becomes worse if the blackouts are prolonged.

No Money - There as been situations where the destination post office has no enough money to pay the receiver. Since the money sent is no physically transfered to the receiving post office, it is believed that the post offices income is used to give the receiver. In some rural areas, people had to wait for days to get the amount sent to them. I had a case when my mother was sent back because the post office did not have enough money to give her. She had to come again several times. This is mostly because the post office is not making enough money from various sales.

Congestion - Most of the people who are using this service in urban places are using it as an alternative to the congested banks and sending to their relatives who have no bank accounts. However as a lot of people discover the efficiency of this service, more and more people are using it thereby crowding the once dormant post offices.

Even though the Fast Cash Money Transfer is transforming the outlook and the image of the Malawi Posts Corporation, there is need to do more to win back the faith of many Malawians. In these technology times we cannot afford to post a letter to Blantyre and wait for a week!

Young Farmers Idea Contest - win $5,000

Through the Young Farmers Idea Contest, the African diaspora and volunteers alike are invited to share their ideas on new ways to engage youths in sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 18 through educational projects, community-building initiatives, and social programs, all centered around agriculture and farming.

We want to hear what you have to say.

At Africa Rural Connect, we believe that collaboration is the key to developing the best ideas for Africa. Add your experience and expertise to the insights of thousands of professionals, experts, and like minded individuals and organizations the world. Together we can build and enhance project plans that could have a real-world impact in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Young Farmers Contest Selection Criteria

The top 10 ideas from endorsements will go to the Leaderboard above and will be sent to a panel of judges who will evaluate the top ideas identifying those they feel are the most original, creative, practical, scalable and likely to be successfully implemented.

Ideas submitted to the Young Farmers Idea Contest can run the gamut from improving youth agricultural education and training, to increasing youths’ access to finances and land, to supporting youth farming organization. You may designate your idea under standard Africa Rural Connect themes such as water resources, agribusiness, post-harvest losses/storage, transportation and infrastructure, and communication methods.

When is the Young Farmers Contest?

The current Young Farmers Idea Contest runs from April 15 - May 31, 2012.

Young Farmers Contest Prizes

Qualified contestants will be eligible to win first, second and third place. The first place winner receives a cash prize of $5,000 and if the winner is based in the U.S. they will also win roundtrip airfare and lodging to the NPCA annual gathering in Minneapolis June 29 -July 1, 2012; the second place winner receives a cash prize of $2,500; and the third place winner receives a cash prize of $1,000.

How do I get involved in idea generation?

Post your idea. Africa Rural Connect is an interactive network; you can participate in a number of ways. If you have an idea for a project plan in rural Africa- post it! Members of the Africa Rural Connect community will support your plan by offering their expertise, pledging resources, and adding visibility of your project through endorsements.

For more information and how you can endorse other people's ideas visit Africa Rural Connect's website.

Friday, May 4, 2012


This is your opportunity to shine a global ICT spotlight on your innovative ideas and digital creativity. Enter the Young Innovators Competition at ITU Telecom World 2012 to show the world how your fresh thinking and talent for technology can provide real-world solutions to real-world problems and change the future for the better. Showcase your innovation on a truly international stage and win the chance to access development workshops, industry expertise and the unparalleled networking potential of World 2012.

Are you 18-25 years old?
Do you have an innovative ICT-based concept or project?
Are you in need of resources to take the next step?
Are you a social entrepreneur?

If your answer is yes to these questions, this could be just the competition for you. Any solution using innovative ICT to support development, from concepts to mature projects can compete to win!

Finalists will be invited to join us at ITU Telecom World 2012 in Dubai, where they will receive the following:

- Up to CHF 10,000 in prize money: great concepts can win up to CHF 5,000; innovative projects can win up to CHF 10,000.

- Industry mentorship: benefit from intensive one-on-one sessions with high level industry mentors, plus their ongoing support over a one-year development period.

- Hands-on Workshop: training sessions focusing on developing entrepreneurial skills.

- Networking: Opportunities to build relationships with top ICT names from industry, governments, academia and peers.

- Showcase at the InnovatorSpace: demo your submission to our influential audience.

Enter the young innovators competition today! Click here to submit your application. Use the documents on the right hand side of this page to help prepare your application. Should you require any further information in the meantime, please contact us at: young.innovators@itu.int

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Malawi's First female President names her cabinet - here is a full list.

Exactly ninteen days after swearing in as Malawi's first female President and Africa's second, Her Excellency Mrs Joyce Banda has named her cabinet. Joyce Banda who took over from the late Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika has roped in some faces from the former ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party and the opposition, United Democratic Front. Here is a full list.

Her Excellency the State President: Mrs. Joyce Banda who is also Commander in-Chief of Malawi Defence Force and Malawi Police Service, Minister responsible for the Public Service, Statutory Corporation, Civil Service Administration, National Relief and Disaster Management and Nutrition and HIV/Aids

Vice-President and Minister of Health: Rt. Hon. Khumbo Kachali

Minister of Finance: Dr Ken Lipenga MP (retained from the previous cabinet)

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation: Hon Ephraim Mganda Chiume MP (retained but given a different portfolio)

Minister of Education, Science and Technology: Eunice Kazembe MP

Minister of Energy, Mining : Hon. Cassim Chilumpha MP (resigned today from the UDF and joined People's Party)

Minister of Gender, Children and Social Services: Hon. Anita Kalinde MP

Minister of Economic Planning & Development: Hon. Atupele Muluzi MP (from the opposition party, UDF)

Minister of Justice and Attorney General: Hon Ralph Kasambara

Minister of Agriculture and Food Security: Hon Peter Nelson Mwanza MP (retained from the previous cabinet)

Minister of Transport and Public Works: Hon. Sidik Mia MP (retained from the previous cabinet)

Minister of Water Development and Irrigation: Bizwick Muheya MP (retained)

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development: Hon. Grace Zinenani Maseko MP

Minister of Information & Civic Education: Moses Kunkuyu MP

Minister of Industry and Trade:
Hon. John Bande MP (retained)

Minister of Lands and Housing: Hon. Henry Phoya MP (joined People's Party today from the Malawi congress Party)

Ministers of Home Affairs: Hon. Uladi Mussa MP (ditched the party he formed, Malavi People's Party and joined People's Party today)

Minister of Defence: Ken Kandodo MP

Minister of Tourism and Culture: Hon. Daniel Liwimbi MP (retained)

Minister of Labour: Hon Eunice Makangala MP

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Management: Hon Catherine Gotani Hara MP (retained and promoted to a full minister)

Minister of Youth and Sports: Enoch Chakufwa Chihana MP (from the Alliance for Democracy)

Minister of Disability and Elderly Affairs: Reen Kachere MP (retained)

Deputy Ministers

Deputy Minister of Finance: Ralph Jooma MP

Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Development: Khwauli Msisya MP (from Alliance for Democracy)

Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare: Jennifer Chilunga MP

Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development: Augustine Mtendere MP

Deputy Minister of Transport and Public Works: Sosten Gwengwe MP

Deputy Minister of Education Science and Technology: Chikumbutso Hiwa MP

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security: Jerome Ulemu Chilapondwa MP

Deputy Minister of Environment and Climate Change Management: Ibrahim Matola MP (from the opposition, UDF)

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation: Rachel Mazombwe

However missing on the list is the name of Malawi Congress Party President, Hon John Tembo, Goodal Gondwe and the late Presidents brother, Peter wa Mutharika who was the Foreign Affairs Minister. Earlier reports indicated that Tembo was tipped to be the Second Vice President.

Meanwhile Parliament will convene for a budget session on 18th May and it remains to be seen as to how the sitting arrangement will be following the transfer or power from DPP to PP and the mass defections which are taking place.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Project Inspire 2012 - 5 Minutes to Change the World

Malawians NGO's and individuals (18-35 year olds) have a chance to win a US$25,000 grant and fund a program which will benefit women and girls in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa. All you have to do is submit a 5 minute world changing idea to take part in this Project Inspire. You can get more details from their website or read below:

Project Inspire is a joint initiative by MasterCard Worldwide and the Singapore Committee for UN Women, which aims to bring together young people across the world to share their life-changing ideas and fulfil their visions of a better world for disadvantaged women and children in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

This is the second time MasterCard and the Singapore Committee for UN Women are joining hands to launch Project Inspire.

As with last year’s iteration, this year-long digital and social media-driven initiative serves as a worldwide platform for 18-35 year-olds, offering them the chance to make their ideas a reality in an effort to empower disadvantaged women and girls in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

The grand prize winner of this year’s Project Inspire will win a US$25,000 grant to fulfill their visions and create sustainable impact in the lives of women and girls.

Here is a step by step guide:

Step 1: Find out more about Project Inspire and check out the instructions and criteria for submission of entries:

Project Inspire presents 18-35 year olds with a 5-minute platform to pitch their inspired idea to the world and win a US$25,000 grant. The grant must show creativity and sustainable impact in the lives of women and girls across Asia, Pacific, the Middle East or Africa through entrepreneurship. To qualify for the US$25,000 grant, the project must meet the following requirements:

- The program must enable disadvantaged women and girls to attain sustained livelihood through entrepreneurship

- Must be an existing women’s empowerment program

- Beneficiaries must be women or girls in Asia/Pacific, Middle East or Africa

- The winner(s) of this competition will have to commence the fieldwork by 1 December 2012

- The project is designed to be implemented with a US$25,000 budget

Step 2: Form a team of up to three members (individual entries are also allowed) and get started on your pitch!

Entries should be submitted in the form of a (maximum) 5-minute video or a (maximum) 2-page A4-sized proposal.

Video entries are to be uploaded on any public video-sharing sites, such as YouTube or Vimeo. Links to the videos must be provided on the submission e-form.

Submissions, either video OR written, must be made in English.

Each proposal should address the following questions:

What is your inspirational idea?

How will your project change the lives of women and girls in the short and long term?

How will you/your team carry out the project?

How will you spend the US$25,000 grant to carry out the project?

How will you measure the success of the project?

Submissions should be accompanied by information on the existing program, biographies of the team members and any supporting materials (e.g. website, social media channels, media clippings, past awards)

Step 3: Deadline for all submissions is 30 June 2012.

For submissions and enquiries pertaining to submissions, please send an email to contact@5minutestochangetheworld.org.

Step 4: Up to 10 shortlisted projects will be announced by the end of July 2012. Finalists will be notified via email

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Youth Employment Forum: Call for applications for Young Journalists/Bloggers

The international Labour Organization (ILO) will offer five young journalists/bloggers the opportunity to promote and cover the Youth Employment Forum, which will take place in Geneva from 23 to 25 May 2012.

The selected journalists/bloggers will be invited to attend the ILO Youth Employment Forum, providing them with a unique opportunity to hear individual stories from over 100 young women and men from around the world who are active in the promotion of decent work for youth.

The Youth Employment Forum will serve as a platform for young people to voice their views on the current youth employment situation and to share ideas on what can be done to provide more and better jobs for their generation.

Young journalists/bloggers will support the coverage of the Forum through social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and blogs), articles, interviews and other relevant mediums. They will also report back to their regional and local communities, networks and organizations.

Criteria for Selection

-Must be below 30 years of age,

-Have journalism (online, print, photo, video, radio) and/or blogging experience,

-Have working knowledge of English, French and/or Spanish. Knowledge of another of the official United Nations languages (Arabic, Chinese and Russian) is also an asset.

Selection Process

The selection panel of the ILO Youth Employment Programme encourages young journalists/bloggers who meet the criteria to enter the competition. The panel will seek to have a balanced representation of entries from different sexes, regions and language groups.

Required documents for the selection process

- A CV

- A brief cover letter explaining why you would like to participate

- Two or three online articles, videos, etc. prepared by you, illustrating your journalism experience

Applications should be sent to youth@ilo.org with the subject “I am a young journalist / blogger”

Air travel and accommodation expenses for the selected young journalists/bloggers will be covered by the ILO.

The deadline for submission of applications is 18 April 2012 at 12:00 PM EST.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Its Official! Malawi President has died and Vice President is set to take over

Finally the Malawi government through the Office of President and Cabinet has issued a statement about the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. The statement said, Milpak Hospital in South Africa had confirmed that Bingu had indeed died and that 10 days of mourning should be observed. The statement also went further ordered that all flags fly at half mast. The dead presidents remains will come back in the country on Tuesday and other arrangements will be made.

Vice President Joyce Banda also conducted a Press Conference at her residence in Area 12 to offer her condolences to the bereaved family and asked the nation to stay calm. She also urged the nation to join hands in mourning the fallen father of the nation. Hon. Joyce Banda further revealed that she has called for a cabinet meeting this afternoon. Even though she was flanked by the Inspector General of Police and the Army Commander, she refused to be drawn into commenting about sucession of the passed on Mutharika.

Hon Joyce Banda's ascendancy to the highest office faces resistance following revelations that the cabinet has been meeting 3 times since the President's demise discussing on how to circumvent the constitution and endorse Bingu's brother, Peter Mutharika. Other minister's have also come out and spilled the beans of what was happening behind closed doors. Up to 5 Cabinet ministers also held a press conference last night to that extent.

However several ministers were present at the Press Conference and pledged to follow the constitution to the letter.

Malawi President's health / death - Where to get reliable news

Every Malawian is talking about the health / death of President Bingu wa Mutharika following news that he was rushed to Kamuzu Central Hospital in the Capital, Lilongwe on Thursday 5th April. While some reputable news sites are reporting that the President has died after suffering a heart attack, there is still no official communication on his health status from the government. News sites like BBC, CNN, France24 and Reuters have all reported of the death of the Malawi President.

At a 10 minute press conference held by the Information Minister Hon. Patricia Kaliati and other 4 senior government officials, government failed to make it clear on the health of the President. However the conference was held to clear the mist on the issues regarding succession of the President. Kaliati only said that government will make a statement tomorrow (today).

Following the information blackout government has chosen to take, many Malawians and and other observers have resorted to the use of Social Media (Facebook and Twitter) Since there is too much information being published i have created a list of sites and individuals you can follow to get up to date news, opinions and latest rumours.

1. You can listen online to Zodiak Broadcasting Radio , Read Nyasa Times, Malawi Voice, Maravi Post, Malawi Democrat, Malawi Today and Face of Malawi.

2. For all the tweets talking about Malawi i (@kristungati) have created a site to aggregate them all visit Malawi on Twitter

3. Kondwani Munthali's blog is well updated with accurate information.

4. Mabvuto Banda who write for alot of international media houses also maintains an in depth blog and updates it as the news happen. Mabvuto is also on Twitter - @bvutoB

5. Rebecca Chimjeka is also updating her blog with news from the corridors of power.

6. Kim Yi Dionne's love for Malawi and Africa keeps her very much in touch with news about Malawi. She blogs about well researched and professional issues about Malawi. She is more active on Twitter as @dadakim

7. Though Jimmy Kainja is not writing about the Malawi President's health / death on his blog, he is more active about that on Twitter. Follow @jkainja

8. Follow Fredrick Bvalani on twitter @fredbvalani

9 Follow the Nation newspaper on twitter @malawination and they are updating their news website as it happens

10. Austin Madinga @austinmadinga

11. Idriss Ali Nassah on twitter @mynassah

12 Waswa @malebopo

13. Capital Radio Malawi @CapitalRadioMW

14 Lawyer Wapona Kita on Facebook

15 Civil activist Billy Mayaya on Facebook

16. Dannie Grant Phiri on Facebook

17. Mzondi Lungu on Facebook

18. Sugzo Khunga on Twitter @sugzokhunga

19. Bright Mhango on Facebook and Twitter as @mutafire

20. Edmond Kachale on Twitter as @ceekays

21 Stanley Onjezani Kenani on Twitter as @onjezani

22. Ben Chiza Mkandawire on Facebook and Twitter as @khadiba

23 Chimwemwe Msuku on twitter @chimwemwemsuku

24. Malawi Voice on Twitter as @malawivoice

25. Towards Malawi Elections 2014 on Facebook and @Malawi2014 on Twitter

26. Face of Malawi on Twitter as @malawinews365

You can also join and follow news on these Facebook groups:

People's Party , Malawi Freedom Network, Occupy Parliament Malawi, Malawi at 50: Towards a New Crop of Malawian Leaders Youth Association For the Restoration of Democracy in Malawi YARDEMA and Capital Radio Malawi.

Friday, April 6, 2012

was at KCH a few minutes after Bingu was brought in

On the morning of Friday 5th April i was informed by a reliable friend that Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has been taken to Kamuzu Central Hospital Intensive Care Unit. He was reportedly unconscious. I stopped whatever i was doing and went straight to the hospital. i arrived in time to find people being sent out of the ICU and lots of VVIP and VIP government vehicles parked awkwardly at the emergency section of the hospital.

I managed to talk to a certain guy who was chased by a state house security detail when he attempted to help remove a 'patient' from a Land Cruiser Ambulance. He said the way the 3 vehicle convoy arrived at the hospital, the way the 'patient' was moved from the car to the stretcher and the way people were chased in the hospital raised suspicions. The 'patient's' face was hidden, he lay flat on his back and was not showing any movements. Those who were very close suggested that it was the big man himself and this was proven when a flood of govt vehicles started arriving.

Goodall Gondwe was among the first, the likes of Kandodo, Vuwa, Bright Msaka, Mukhito, Peter, Madalitso (Bingu's son) Callista, Christopher Ngwira, Jean kalilani, Willy Samute, Bruce Munthali, came and entered the ICU at different times. Mp for Dowa West, Bauleni Manna came in very late and was seen moving around greeting people and talking frequently on his mobile.

Together with alot of media people including Kondwani Munthali, Rabecca Chimjeka, Joel Nkhoma, we camped outside and saw all the comings and goings, the caucuses that were taking place outside and in corridors. We were not allowed access to that part of the hospital and all the evacuated guardians were outside.

At around 3PM all the senior govt officials we saw, started leaving the place and we geared ourself to see, the President leave but nothing, he was no where to be seen . All the people who left were able to walk on their own and we carefully looked inside every car. The last to leave was Callista and Bingu's daughter wearing sombre faces, Peter and Mada had already left (Mada wore dark glasses to hide his face, Peter had his head down.)

After Callista had left we thought that they are trying to use another exit to take out the President so we split to other exits but there was no sight of Bingu. All the cars had left except the land cruiser ambulance. That's when hospital staff started talking (in low voices). The President has died and his body will be moved to RSA later n the evening for professional embalming before announcements. I tried to personally confirmed with several friends who work at the hospital. People said it was cardiac arrest and they were trying to resuscitate him but it was failing. Some even claimed he was already dead the time he was brought to the hospital

Just like everyone else, I dint want to write it here or on Facebook or on twitter because i waas very afraid and that there was no official word from government.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A look at Airtel Malawi's Mobile Money

The fact that mobile money transfers have found a fertile ground in East Africa is well documented. M-Pesa, Airtel Money and other mobile money transfers have been well received in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In fact most of these have their origins in this part of Africa. Malawians now have a chance to reap the benefits of this fast growing mCommerce innovation following the launch of Airtel Money and plans to roll out TNM's Mpamba Mobile Money. This follows failed attempts by E-Wallet (formerly Pay265) to do the same a few years back.

A launch of Airtel Money, graced by Malawi's Finance Minister, set the pace on how Malawians can use their cellphones to do some financial transactions. Airtel Mobile Money will be piloted in some districts before it is rolled out countrywide.

What is Airtel Mobile Money?

Airtel Mobile money is a simple way that allows Airtel Malawi customers to do some financial transactions on their handsets without setting their feet in banking halls or service centres. Customers will be able to:

. Send money from their Airtel Money account to another Airtel Money account using their cellphone.
. Send money from their Airtel Money account to a Bank account
. Send money from their bank account to any Airtel Money account
. Receive money from another Airtel Money account
. Send, receive and purchase airtime.
. Pay for goods, services and settle bills from their Airtel accounts
. Check balances of both Airtel Money and bank accounts on their mobile phone

How to join Airtel Money

To register for Mobile Money, one has to be a Airtel Malawi customer with an active SIM card and it is limited to one account for one customer.

. Fill the Customer Application Forms at any authorised Airtel Money agents found in many places all over Malawi including post offices.
. Customers are also required to attach acceptable proof of identity i.e driving licence, passport or voter registration cards.
. Upon successful account creation, the customer will receive a welcome SMS confirming the cretaion of the account.
. The customer will need to load money in their account to start transacting.

Cash In and Cash Out

Cash stored in Airtel iMoney is called virtual money and can only be cashed in or out at authorised agents all over the country. Cash in is the process of converting cash into Airtel Money's virtual money (more like depositing). Cash out is the process of converting virtual money into cash (more like withdrawing). There is a fee attached to these transactions!

Benefits of using Airtel Money

. Mobile access to financial transactions at anytime
. Convenient payment of services, bills and purchasing of goods
. Secure and faster way to receive, store and transfer money
. Access to airtime 24/7
. Limiting the amount of cash one carries around

Need for more civic education!

Despite the fact that Mobile Money has a lot of benefits and easy to use, it is not easily adopted by the general populace as evidenced in East Africa. One reason why it is hard to be adopted is lack of civic education on its importance and how to use it. Airtel Money will benefit the rural areas who have no access to proper banking services and the urban population which is always in need of accessing financial transactions in time but there is need for a massive campaign to educate them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sugar woes in Malawi - {PICS}

Sugar has suddenly become a very precious commodity in Malawi and people are queuing in various stores to buy the precious commodity. I managed to take a few pictures this morning at Chipiku Plus along Chilambula road in Lilongwe.

Here customers are allowed to buy one 2KG packet at MK450.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Malawi is sitting on a time bomb, ready to explode

If you care for Malawi, Malawians and people living in it, its time you got on your knees and started praying. Regardless of whatever or whoever you believe in, Malawi needs your prayers.

Malawi is now ready to explode after three years of preparations. All it needs is a small trigger to set the events in motion. Things have reached very critical levels and all indicators of a failed state have been fulfilled. Its really hard to be in Malawi right now.

As i write this post, the only hope we had as Malawians, the independent judicially is not functioning for over a month, there is a looming civil service strike and ugly scene of attacking activists have returned. Its too bad for democracy, if we have any left.

I am writing this post for he first time this year after i was forced to stop writing for two reasons. Towards the end of last year, i was threatened by some people because of what i write on this blog. Two, i was very frustrated by the lack of action by my fellow Malawians. While things are getting worse each passing day we are not concerned an inch. We continue to live life normally as if nothing is happening. We have allowed things to continue getting worse.

I have since decided to take back my pen and paper and write whatever i have to write in this situation because my silence is doing more harm than good. I cant find peace when things get worse and i don't take any part.

But now things are going to the extreme. Am very much afraid and i just pray for the best. We need to do something though am convinced that something will happen very soon, its just a matter of weeks and days....