Malawi - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Malawi - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Malawi calls for a third mobile network licence

Malawi remains one of the world's least developed countries, with few resources to build efficient fixed-line telecom infrastructure. As a result, the country's two mobile networks provide the vast majority of connections for voice and data services. Both Airtel Malawi and TMN have invested in LTE to improve data services, and by September 2019 TMN's entire network had been upgraded to LTE. Nevertheless, this market duopoly has resulted in relatively high prices for services, prompting the government in late 2020 to call for a new license to be issued in a bid to improve market competition.

Mobile penetration remains low in comparison to the regional average and so there are considerable opportunities for further growth, particularly in the mobile broadband sector.

The internet sector is reasonably competitive, with about 50 licensed ISPs, though the limited availability and high cost of international bandwidth has held back growth and kept broadband access prices among the highest in the region. These limitations are being addressed, with national fibre backbone nearing completion and improved access to international submarine cables via a transit link from neighbouring countries.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

President of Malawi calls for a third mobile licence to be awarded;
New SIM cards required registration process;
Government begins review of the National ICT policy and the Malawi Digital Broadcasting policy;
Regulator uses USF to install mobile towers in rural areas, to be leased to Airtel Malawi and MTL for a fee;
Airtel Malawi completes an IPO;
MTL switches off its CDMA network;
World Bank provides $72.4 million to help Malawi engage in the digital economy;
Reserve Bank of Malawi reports on m-payment progress for Q2 2020;
Regulator leans on Universal Access Fund to improve mobile services to rural areas;
Report updates include recent market developments, regulator's market report for 2018, operator data to Q2 2020, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

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


  • Executive summary
  • Key statistics
    • Table Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities - Malawi – 2018 (e)
  • Country overview
  • COVID-19 and its impact on the telecom sector
    • ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS AND RESPONSES
    • MOBILE DEVICES
    • SUBSCRIBERS
    • INFRASTRUCTURE
  • Telecommunications market
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
  • Regulatory environment
    • MALAWI COMMUNICATIONS ACT 1998
    • MALAWI COMMUNICATIONS ACT 2016
    • ICT POLICY
    • REGULATORY AUTHORITY
    • FIXED-LINE DEVELOPMENTS
      • Telecom sector liberalisation
      • Privatisation
      • Converged licensing regime
      • Universal service
      • Interconnection
    • MOBILE NETWORK DEVELOPMENTS
      • SIM card registration
      • Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
        • Table Telecom levy revenue – 2013 – 2017
  • Mobile market
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • Table Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Malawi – 2010 – 2025
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • 4G (LTE)
      • 3G
      • Mobile data
      • Mobile broadband
        • Table Active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration in Malawi – 2010 – 2025
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • TNM
        • Table TNM financial results (MWK billion) – 2009 – 2020
        • Table Development of TNM's mobile ARPU – 2011 – 2018
        • Table TNM mobile subscribers – 2009 – 2018
        • Table TNM mobile bases stations in service – 2014 – 2019
      • Airtel Malawi
        • Table Airtel Malawi mobile subscribers – 2016 – 2019
      • G-Mobile (GAIN)
      • Celcom Malawi
      • Lacell Private (Smart Mobile)
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • m-money
      • M-health
  • Fixed-line broadband market
    • INTRODUCTION AND STATISTICAL OVERVIEW
    • BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Fixed broadband subscribers – 2010 – 2020
    • FIXED-LINE BROADBAND TECHNOLOGIES
  • Digital economy
  • Fixed network operators
    • MALAWI TELECOM (MTL)
    • ACCESS COMMUNICATIONS
  • Telecommunications infrastructure
    • OVERVIEW OF THE NATIONAL TELECOM NETWORK
      • Table Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Malawi – 2010 – 2019
    • INTERNATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Table International bandwidth – 2010 – 2019
      • Submarine cable networks
  • Appendix – Historic data
    • Table Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Malawi – 1999 – 2009
    • Table Historic - Internet users and penetration rate – 1999 – 2009
    • Table Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Malawi – 1999 - 2009
    • Table Historic - Internet users and penetration rate – 2010 – 2015
    • Table Historic - TNM ARPU ($) – 2003 – 2013
    • Table Historic - Fixed broadband subscribers – 2006 – 2009
    • Table Historic - International bandwidth – 2006 – 2009
  • Glossary of abbreviations
  • Related reports

Download our eBook: How to Succeed Using Market Research

Learn how to effectively navigate the market research process to help guide your organization on the journey to success.

Download eBook