Malawi yearns for ICT solutions to reduce road deaths

African road traffic accidentsOfficial figures suggest that more than 1.000 people die in traffic-related accidents on Malawi's roads every year. (Image source: transaid images/Flickr)The government of Malawi has challenged local car dealerships and other stakeholders to introduce vehicles with ICT facilities aimed at reducing road accidents

Tongues have been wagging after much talk about the capability to avoid road accidents due to vehicle technology such as auto braking, alcohol sensors and other related technologies.

While others downplay Malawi's capability to embrace such technology in the meantime arguing it would be too costly, senior government officials say they are determined to make it work.

"Many people laugh it off as a mere pipedream. But it's a dream we are determined to make come true," said Malawi minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu.

Kunkuyu said it was saddening that many Malawians thought ICT facilities, rather than contributing to avoiding accidents, increase them.

"We understand many accidents occur due to use of ICT gadgets such as mobile phones whilst driving among people from across all social classes. We also understand that the emergence of GPS navigation systems in modern vehicles is also contributing to road accidents," he noted.

Kunkuyu called on people to use technologies responsibly and on car dealerships to ensure they introduce ICT products that can help reduce road accidents. These products include hands-free devices, which he said could go a long way to reduce road accidents on Malawi roads.

"For every gadget that increases road safety, we will be saving several lives," he observed.

Recently, the Ministry of Information and Ministry of Transport, and various ICT organisations, law enforcement agencies and local regulator MACRA, joined hands to commemorate the World Telecommunication and Information society day under the theme, 'ICT and improving road safety'.

Martha Kwataine, board chairperson for Malawi's communications regulator MACRA, said the local regulator was working on ensuring that ICT facilities help in reducing road deaths.

Kwataine said the regulating body is learning from countries that have achieved a reduction in road incidents by embracing technologies that reduce accidents to formulate policies that will help achieve such objectives. However, she challenged authorities to ensure the country's roads were durable and argued that technology alone could not reduce accidents.

According to official figures, close to 1,000 people die on Malawi's roads every year due to speeding, drink driving and the use of ICT gadgets.


Mallick Mnela

Mallick Mnela was recently voted Journalist of the Year - (Maternal Health) by the National Media Institute of Southern Africa (Namisa)

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