Malawi has officially joined the tech hub movement spreading like wildfire across the African continent by opening its first technology hub, aptly named mHub. Based in Lilongwe, the country’s capital city, the hub seeks to support technology start-ups through training, skills development and mentorship.
“The mHub’s key target group are the youths. The hub intends to reach out to students and graduates to become members and harness their technology skills whilst building a crop of technology entrepreneurs that are conspicuously missing in Malawi,” said Rachel Sibande, mHub CEO and Founder.
“It is evident that youth unemployment is very high, yet options for the youth to engage in are limited. The hub thus intends to attract young people who are not employed but have the skill set and passion to develop further and transcend into entrepreneurs.”
Despite the rapid uptake of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in Malawi, there has been very little progress in maximising the opportunities presented by ICTs to solve some of the problems facing the country.
Malawi remains one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 171 out of 187 in the Human Development Index. Over half of its population, estimated to be 14.9 million, lives below the national poverty line.
Against this background, many innovators and start-ups in Malawai work in isolation and face challenges that could be easily be resolved if they collaborated.
While mobile and internet penetration in Malawi remains very low at 36 and 6 per cent, respectively, there are considerable opportunities for growth, including leveraging of technology to address some of the socio-economic challenges.
“We think by bringing people together, we are building a community centred around technology and pushing ideas together with a group spirit. We are a hub where people come together to try to solve problems and build businesses out of the solutions,” said Sibande.
“As a hub we are bringing together different IT players to provide solutions in all areas that are lacking in Malawi. We have reached out to universities through talks and meeting interested techies. On the social media we have interacted with a lot of young people who have started using the hub.”
Hivos Southern Africa is currently supporting mHub to build a community of techies, engage with the corporate sector on software development, incubate technology startups, and host developer groups, hackathons and start-up camps.
“Malawi has a lot of young people with skills, and the opening of the tech hub will facilitate co-creation, collaboration and co-designing,” said Tambudzai Madzimure, Hivos Southern Africa’s ICT and Media Project Manager.