The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has formally issued a ten-year public telecoms services licence to Lacell Private Limited. Nyasa Times quotes the head of the MACRA, Godfrey Itaye, as saying that the licensing of a new mobile operator will increase competition, leading to lower prices and improved service quality. Lacell chairperson, Farook Satar, said the company will deliver high quality services and will provide coverage to rural parts of the country. Lacell will compete with established cellcos Airtel Malawi and Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM), which claimed subscriber bases of 3.39 million and 2.63 million, respectively, at the end of June 2015.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Lacell and another company, Expresso Telecom Group, were selected as the winning bidders of two mobile concessions in April 2009, but following legal concerns that the MACRA had issued a pair of licences but had only advertised one for sale, the government cancelled the process in October 2009. A new international tender was subsequently launched by the regulator in February 2010, and an operating concession was eventually awarded to Celcom Limited in May 2011. However, Celcom has not launched commercial services, having repeatedly failed to meet its rollout obligations, and earlier this year MACRA moved to revoke the locally-owned firm’s concession.
In other news, TNM has completed a three-year Radio Access Network (RAN) modernisation programme to improve network performance and service quality across the country. Under the USD6.5 million project, legacy equipment was replaced with new outdoor base transceiver stations (BTS) and power systems at all sites were upgraded.