The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) is set to award a mobile operating licence to Malcel, as the new company seeks to become the country’s third mobile network operator in competition with Airtel and Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM). Nyasa Times quotes Malcel’s founder and CEO Bonface Ndawala as saying that the company plans to begin the rollout of its network in the fourth quarter of this year ahead of a scheduled launch of operations towards the end of 2023. Malcel plans to invest around USD280 million in its operations and aims to roll out 1,300 mobile sites over five years. Ndawala added that a mobile money company, MCASH, has also been registered to increase financial inclusion in Malawi. Malcel is 60% owned by Eferio Communications, with 30% held by local company Bedrock Holdings and the remaining 10% by local and international shareholders.
Confirming the development, MACRA’s Director General Daud Suleman said: ‘The process of vetting [Malcel’s] licence was vigorous and we are satisfied with the application as submitted. We are still in the process of working with them until the gazetting of the licence as per law and regulations. The financial viability and stability of their application assured us and we will continue to work with them as they start their operations in the country.’
The development follows a report in May that another company – Nyasa Mobile – had announced its intention to roll out services by the end of this year. The firm, which is a subsidiary of Nyasa Manufacturing Company, has allegedly been in discussions with UK-based Vodafone Group about a potential strategic partnership. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that numerous attempts by the government over the last 20 years to introduce much-needed competition to the mobile sector have so far failed. The market is characterised by high tariffs and poor service quality, with mobile penetration standing at just 59% of the population at the end of March 2022.