IBIT Consultancy’s Birth
IBIT’s Consulting project, was initiated and registered by Mwayi Mchuchu on 12 January 2015, but became active in 2018 February. The gap to activation has been due to slow process in raising financial capital which came out of personal savings. This year upon meeting other visionary dreamers the likes of chikondi chinammale. I was inspired to launch the project despite having limited capital, meet the team.
Get to know Mwayi Mchuchu (Founder)
I am a self-driven, idealistic hardworking passionate IT professional, with
more than 10 years as an IT support officer and a graduate of University of Greenwich (class of 2018). Bsc(Hons) BIT UOG
I joined Mzuzu University in 2008 with a certificate in computer studies as an internet operator, later promoted to IT technical personnel and have been
working and studying various IT, Managements and Marketing Courses whilst putting much focus on the IT career, won several performance-based awards such as best technician of the year 2010 and 2012. Throughout the years I have also worked as an IT specialist volunteer in several community, educational and charitable organizations such as;
Butterfly Space Malawi, CCAP Special Needs Education,
fair Denmark Malawi, Malawi community development offices Mzuzu, Secondary School IT rehabilitation project (Mzuzu University) and volunteered IT support for Kaka
community day secondary school.
My job description enables me to interact with students and members of staff more often through supporting their IT needs of which computer maintenance has been the main rendered support. Throughout the years I have observed that the common root cause to computer hardware related problems has less to do with the poor computer usage or our erratic power environment, though these two are part of the contributing factors. But the main reason has been machine’s lifespan issue, 90% of the personal laptops being used by university student are the walking dead type of machines. Most machines are 4th to 6th hand machines in their fourth or more years from date of manufacture.
Working at a higher learning environment has also enabled me to appreciate the value of education and understand the demand gap between reputable educational institutions and prospective learners. Each year universities are experiencing a huge number of applications for both generic face to face and Open Distance Education Programmes. There is also a growing number of applicants above the age of 30 for undergraduate programmes. The trend is the
same even in secondary evening / weekend open classes. This indicates a competitive employment environment as number of graduates rises, employees without a first degree feel the edge to go back to school and catchup to retain job security. The number of applicants is more than five to ten times or even more than the enrollment rate of most accredited public and private higher
learning institutions. Mostly enrollment is limited due to available classroom space and other constraints. This does not take into account of other prospective applicants who failed to apply due to their current engagement being work and or business but have a desire to study. Such observations help me realize available win-win opportunities if realistic solutions to bridge
current gaps are well put into action.
FACTS THAT LED TO IBIT CONSULTANCY’S New affordable laptops Project
Second (used) laptops are expensive than brand new ones.
The initial cost of a secondhand laptop is cheaper to a student, but the accumulation of the maintenance costs and the likelihood of the laptop to completely die requiring replacement is more than the once off amount of a new basic laptop with a limited warranty.
Higher pricing of electronic goods in Malawi.
Malawi is one country with high value added tax rates on goods, electronics haven’t been spared despite efforts to wave the same in the name of promoting information technology development. Students and staff plus other low income earners are victims of the same which leads to prioritizing used electronics as the obvious option. Shipping plus overheads costs are other main factors contributing to higher electronics prices in Malawi. For example a new laptop pegged at $300 on amazon ends up being sold at $550 or more to a Malawian consumer (in electronics shops).
Used laptops are a nightmare to most students.
As much as student get the academic work done using the second/ third etc hand laptops, it is only because they have no choice. But when those laptops die during assignments writing, it is always a nightmare. This adds to academic pressure and attributes to poor performance of other students due to dived attention as they now have to focus on getting the machines repaired than the academic work at hand.
Institutional computer labs aren’t a replacement for student’s need for a laptop.
While the computer labs play a key role in delivering lessons and internet usage for students. The labs have specified open and closing times, usually the times the labs are open it is the same time the student are in class. All public universities in Malawi are embarking on students classroom space and not lodging, this resulted in student commuting outside campus making the use of computer labs after classes inconvenient. Think of ten student using one machine to write their assignments and are all saved on the same machine in different directories. There is a higher possibility of plagiarism. Universities are pushing for student’s work authenticity this might just contradict to that.
The greenhouse effect.
Malawi has no single electronics recycling company, the many second hand machines available dying each day are just dumped anyhow without following the E- Waste guides for example ISO/TC297. Improper disposal of electronics slowly continues to contribute towards the green effect. The donations of used machines though warmly welcome are sort of making Malawi an electronics dumping area. Very few in-fact only one organisation. Fair denmark is doing a great job by continually providing support to the donated used machines in secondary schools, to prolong the computers lifespan. The organisation also collects and ships electronic wastes from their donations for proper recycling. Otherwise most other donations are once off with no continuation or support plan, the machines works for a year or two eventually packs, later eat-up the much needed room space in college institutions, making it look as a dumping area of used electronics as. However partly it is our lack of government interest in investing towards institutional technology developments at a glass root level.
Setting a precedence to student decision making in procuring standard electronics.
A student who has been used to relying on used machines besides the pain of frequent maintenance and frustrations, is more likely to opt a second hand similar item in the future even with enough finances to procure a standard new product of the same. So by allowing such students access to brand new machines this might also encourage such students after graduating to always opt for new gadgets (The Attenuating Role of Decision Justifiability).
Building a sense of responsibility in student towards giving back to the community.
Malawi governement has a fees and stationally loan system that is unstable and inconsistent despite recovery measures a mindset of taking education tuition and support resources loans as free government grant is one other challange to sustainability of the system. The laptops will be purchases on a long term loan basis where a student will deposit an initial deposit within their comfortable budget line, use the laptop and squre the balance in bits up to a year or two. If the student fails to finish the balance, the oustanding amount will be carried over until the student graduates and secures a job or becomes financially stable, records will be kept to ensure recovery to help more students and also to let students develop a sense of being accountable and responsible.
Second hand laptops market is fueling theft of the same.
Thieves steal used machines knowing there is a higher demand of the same product, making new machines affordable might help slower the rate.