New mobile phone network given licence in Malawi

Mobile Use in Africa   Ken Banks   FlickrMobile services in Malawi are among the most expensive in the world, and service penetration is very low compared to the African average. (Image source: Ken Banks/Flickr)Malawi’s communication regulator has authorised the entry of Lacell Private Limited (Lacell), a new telecommunications company, in the country

In its efforts to improve the ICT sector in the country, Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has given Lacell a 10-year licence to start mobile phone services. MACRA’s director general, Geofrey Itaye, said that the new entrant signifies more investment coming to Malawi, while at the same time, creating a more competitive market for mobile phone services.

“MACRA is convinced that Lacell will be able to deliver and make a significant contribution to the economy,” said Itaye. He added that telecommunication investment is essential not only for economic growth but also for improvement of communication sector.

Lacell has paid MACRA US$1.1mn for the licence and spectrum allocation, and the company is expected to create about 1,000 jobs. Farook Sattar, chairman of Lacell’s board, said that the company has already invested US$150mn to set up its infrastructure and is ready to roll out its services. Sattar added that the company will provide “significant value and innovations” to its customers, and said that services will be rolled out in mid-2016, and will be introduced in the country’s rural areas as well, which currently don’t have access to mobile connectivity.

“We will ensure value for money on data and telecommunication services, high speed and efficiency,” explained Sattar.

Chairwoman of MACRA board, Alissa Makawa, expressed happiness at the entry of Lacell in the mobile phone market, saying that it may assist in bringing down the high phone tariffs and poor quality of service in the country by creating competition in the market.

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