Malawi: Malcel readies to take on Airtel, TNM
Malawi’s industry regulator, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has awarded the country’s latest telecommunications competitor, Malcel, with a licence to operate.
Malcel will compete with the country’s two largest operators Airtel Malawi and Telekom Network Malawi (TNM).
MACRA Director General Daud Suleman said the regulator is hopeful more competition in the local market would “level the playing field” and encourage growth within the country’s digital economy.
Suleman said, “The financial viability and stability of their application assured us and we will continue to work with them as they start their operation in the country. This is good for the economy, external investment and job creation. What is more important is to know that the company is owned by Malawian tech-entrepreneurs, which is a good sign of both local empowerment and Malawians getting involved in the telecoms market.”
Malcel founder, CEO and Deputy Executive Chairman Bonface Ndawala told the local Nyasa Times newspaper that the deployment of Malcel network will begin in the fourth quarter of this year.
He added that the company expects to officially launch operations in Q4 2023.
Ndawala said Malcel will invest US$280-million in its operations and that more money would be invested through a partnership it has with a telecommunications tower company.
As to the ownership of Malcel, Ndawala said the company is a partnership between Bedrock Holdings, a Malawian company that owns 30% shareholding in Malcel and Efario Communications Limited, a Danish company that owns 60% shares in the company.
Ndawala was quoted by the newspaper as saying, “The remaining 10% shares are earmarked for other local and foreign shareholders with whom Malcel is still in discussion to take up the shares. Through our collaboration with Efario Communications Limited, we have secured US$250 million for this project and we are in the process of negotiating for the remaining US$30 million with various investors to bring the total investment to US$280 million.”
Ndawala said they have also registered a mobile money company called MCASH.
In 2020, the country’s President Lazarus Chakwera gave MACRA the go-ahead to grant a mobile network operating licence to the country’s third operator.
In May this year, another local company, Nyasa Mobile, proclaimed it had secured status as the third operator, and announced its intention to rollout services by the end of this year.
It added that it was in discussion with Vodafone Group about a potential strategic partnership.