The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has issued new licences that will enable the market entry of a third mobile operator and a new satellite broadband provider.
We reported in August that Malcel was set to receive its operating licence, and this has now been made official. The company has pledged to launch services on 1st October 2023, with founder and CEO Bonface Ndawala revealing plans to deploy 1300 sites across both rural and urban regions to establish the operator as a rival to current players Airtel Malawi and TNM.
Ndwala pledged to invest over US$280 million into its operations across the next five years, noting “we have seen among other things that data prices are high. We should be able to bring in innovations that are going to reduce the prices.” Malcel has also registered a mobile money firm MCASH, indicating its plans for this sector.
Minister of Information and Digitalisation Gospel Kazako said that a third operator would strengthen competition and thereby boost quality of service as well as making prices more competitive, saying: “We need to bear in mind that the essence of our operations is not just to satisfy ourselves but to meet the needs of our customers by providing high-quality and affordable services. The ICT industry still needs more players in order to contribute effectively to the development of the country.”
According to ITWeb Africa, Malcel is 30% owned by Malawian firm Bedrock Holdings and 60% owned by Denmark’s Efario Communications Limited. The remaining 10% of shares will be made available to local and overseas shareholders.
MACRA has also issued a licence to SpaceX’s satellite internet subsidiary Starlink, which will now be able to offer high speed, low latency satellite broadband services in the market. The firm applied for a licence in February 2022 and has been issued with a Network Facilities licence, a Network Services concession and an Application Services licence.