Malawi could move from two to six mobile networks in 2012


Malawi is one of the world’s least developed countries, but its economy continues to grow at close to 4% per year. Mobile penetration is less than half the African average, which means there is excellent growth potential once the market moves beyond the duopoly held by Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain) and Telecom Networks Malawi (TNM).

A third mobile operator, G-Mobile was licensed in 2008 but the rollout of the new network has experienced delays and the operator is fighting against the revocation of its licence in the courts. A fourth licence was awarded to Celcom in 2011 with services expected to be launched in 2012.

To introduce more competition to the market, the government has followed in the footsteps of several of its neighbours and introduce a converged licensing regime which now allows the two fixed-line operators, Malawi Telecommunications (MTL) and Access Communications (ACL) to enter the mobile market as well. Both are already operating CDMA-based fixed-wireless networks which support full mobility and broadband access using EV-DO technology.