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Malawi - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Market Insights and Statistics

1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
2.1 Country overview
3. Telecommunications market
3.1 Market analysis
4. Regulatory environment
4.1 Malawi Communications Act 1998
4.1.1 Malawi Communications Amendment Act
4.2 ICT Policy
4.3 Regulatory authority
4.3.1 Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA)
4.4 Telecom sector liberalisation in Malawi
4.5 Converged licensing regime 2011
4.6 Universal service
4.7 Interconnection
5. Fixed network operators in Malawi
5.1 Malawi Telecommunications Ltd (MTL)
5.1.1 Privatisation
5.1.2 Fixed-line statistics
5.1.3 Network infrastructure
5.1.4 CDMA fixed-wireless system (Liberty Phone)
5.2 Access Communications
6. National fibre backbone infrastructure
6.1 MTL
6.2 Escom
7. International infrastructure
7.1 Submarine cable networks
8. Internet market
8.1 Overview
8.1.1 Internet statistics
8.2 Malawi's ISP market
8.2.1 MalawiNet
8.2.2 MTL Online
8.2.3 Skyband
8.2.4 Globe Internet
8.3 VoIP
9. Broadband market
9.1 ADSL
9.2 EV-DO
9.3 White-space spectrum
9.4 WiMAX, WiFi
9.4.1 Broadmax
9.5 Mobile internet
9.5.1 Skyband
9.5.2 GlobeMax
9.5.3 eWiMAX
9.5.4 MiNET
10. Mobile communications
10.1 Overview of Malawi's mobile market
10.1.1 Mobile statistics
10.2 Major mobile operators
10.2.1 TNM
10.2.2 Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain, Celtel)
10.3 Third and fourth mobile licence
10.3.1 G-Mobile (GAIN)
10.3.2 Celcom Malawi
10.3.3 Lacell Private (Smart Mobile)
10.4 Mobile data services
10.4.1 M-commerce
10.5 Third generation (3G)
11. Forecasts
11.1 Forecasts mobile market 2014; 2017
11.2 Notes on scenario forecasts
12. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics Malawi 2014 (e)
Table 2 Fixed-line network statistics 2015 (e)
Table 3 Internet provider statistics 2015
Table 4 Internet and social media user statistics 2015 (e)
Table 5 Mobile statistics 2015 (e)
Table 6 National telecommunications authority
Table 7 MTL financial data 2011 - 2012
Table 8 Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Malawi 1999 - 2004
Table 9 Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Malawi 2005 - 2015
Table 10 International bandwidth 2001 - 2013
Table 11 Historic - Internet users and penetration rate 1999 - 2004
Table 12 Internet users and penetration rate 2005 - 2015
Table 13 Fixed internet subscribers and penetration 2000 - 2015
Table 14 Fixed broadband subscribers 2003 - 2015
Table 15 Active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration in Malawi 2010 - 2015
Table 16 Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Malawi 1999 - 2004
Table 17 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Malawi 2005 - 2015
Table 18 TNM financial results 2009 2014
Table 19 TNM ARPU 2003 - 2012
Table 20 TNM mobile subscribers 2003 - 2012
Table 21 Forecast mobile subscribers in Malawi 2014; 2017
Chart 1 Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Malawi 2005 2015
Chart 2 Internet users and penetration rate 2005 2015
Chart 3 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 2002 - 2015
Chart 4 TNM financial results 2009 2014

Malawi's telecom sector pricing among the most expensive in the region

Although Malawi is one of the world's least developed countries, GDP growth has been strong in recent years, with the exception of 2012 when growth fell to 1.9%. GDP growth recovered in 2013, reaching 5.2%, and was expected to have increased to 5.7% for 2014. Telcos have been affected by the currency devaluation imposed in mid-2013, which has delayed their ability to fund network upgrades. In addition, the government in mid-2013 instituted a tax on internet services, the additional cost of services being passed on to consumers.

Mobile penetration remains very low in comparison to the African average. This allows for considerable opportunities for further growth. The market remains a duopoly between Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain) and Telecom Networks Malawi (TNM), given the failure of the third and fourth mobile operators, G-Mobile and Celcom Malawi, to launch services.

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

The internet sector is reasonably competitive with 22 licensed ISPs, though the limited availability and high cost of international bandwidth has held back growth and has kept broadband access prices among the highest in the region. DSL services are available, and several ISPs continue to extend their WiMAX wireless broadband footprints. The two incumbent mobile networks have launched third generation (3G) mobile services based on UMTS/HSPA technology.

A national fibre backbone is being implemented, and the country recently gained access to international submarine fibre optic cables for the first time when a transit link via neighbouring countries was completed. Provided a suitable regulatory regime is put in place, this will bring down the cost of international bandwidth and deliver a boost to the broadband market.

Estimated market penetration rates in Malawi's telecoms sector end - 2015
Market | Penetration rate
Mobile | 38%
Fixed | 1.9%
Internet | 6.8%
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

Key developments:

Beijing Xinwei Telecom Technology planning to enter the market as technology vendor and telco;
Regulator prepares to award mobile licence to Lacell Private following failure of Celcom to launch services;
TNM reports 102% increase in net profit for 2014;
Regulator proposes Universal Access Fund (UAF) to deliver mobile services to rural areas;
SIM card registration takes effect;
Broadband plan developed with ITU technical assistance;
TMN reports strong revenue recovery;
Airtel Money registers over 500,000 users, receives ten-year licence renewal;
Converged licensing regime expected to boost competition;
National fibre rollout;
White space spectrum trials to increase broadband availability;
SimbaNeET contracted to build and operate a fibre-optic cable linking Lilongwe with Tanzania;
Report updates include recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Malawi Telecommunications Ltd (MTL); Access Communications Ltd (ACL); Bharti Airtel (Zain, Celtel); Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM); G-Mobile (GAIN); Celcom Ltd; Escom; MalawiNet; MTL Online; Skyband;Globe Internet; Broadmax; Burco.


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