Malawi - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Malawi’s National Fibre Backbone Project nears completion

Malawi is one of the world’s least developed and poorest countries, and has suffered from inconsistent economic growth in recent years. Businesses endured high inflation and a rapidly depreciating currency in 2015 and 2016, though the economy rebounded in 2017 (with GDP expected to have grown 4.5% in the year) and the currency has stabilised. This had enabled telecom operators fund network upgrades, with the result that considerable investment was channelled to fixed-line and mobile infrastructure upgrades during the year.

Mobile penetration remains low in comparison to the regional average. This allows for considerable opportunities for further growth, particularly in the mobile broadband sector. TMN has launched an LTE-A service while Airtel Malawi is prepping for the launch of its own LTE network in early 2018. The market remains a duopoly between these two operators given the failure of G-Mobile and Celcom Malawi to launch services. However, there is expectation that Lacell Private (operating under the Smart Mobile brand) will provide some competition and encourage a reduction in end-user prices.

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. The converged licensing regime was revised and came into force in September 2016.

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. DSL services are available. The incumbent in late 2017 closed down I CDMA network, while the WiMAX component is expected to be closed down in the first quarter of 2018.

A national fibre backbone is nearing completion, while the country recently gained access to international submarine fibre optic cables via a transit link from neighbouring countries.

Key developments:

  • Telecom regulator kick-starts SIM card registration process;
  • Airtel Malawi launches LTE services;
  • Mobile Termination Rates begin glide path reduction through to 2020; MTL switches off its CDMA network;
  • World Bank provides $72.4 million to help Malawi engage in the digital economy;
  • Regulators of Zambia and Malawi sign MoU related to cooperative efforts in the telecom and broadcasting sectors;
  • TNM boasts 72% increase in net profit for H1 2017;
  • TNM launches LTE-A services;
  • National Fibre Backbone Project nears completion;
  • Reserve Bank of Malawi reports on m-payment progress;
  • Regulator develops Universal Access Fund (UAF) to deliver mobile services to rural areas;
  • White space spectrum trials to increase broadband availability;
  • Report updates include recent market developments, operator data to Q2 2017.
  • 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.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Market analysis
  • 5. Regulatory environment
    • 5.1 Malawi Communications Act 1998
    • 5.2 Malawi Communications Act 2016
    • 5.3 ICT Policy
    • 5.4 Regulatory authority
    • 5.5 Telecom sector liberalisation
    • 5.6 Privatisation
    • 5.7 Converged licensing regime
    • 5.8 Universal service
    • 5.9 Interconnection
  • 6. Fixed network operators
    • 6.1 Malawi Telecommunications (MTL)
    • 6.2 Access Communications
  • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 7.1 Overview of the national telecom network
    • 7.2 International infrastructure
      • 7.2.1 Submarine cable networks
  • 8. Fixed-line broadband market
    • 8.1 Introduction and statistical overview
    • 8.2 Broadband statistics
    • 8.3 Fixed-line broadband technologies
  • 9. Digital economy
  • 10. Mobile market
    • 10.1 Market analysis
    • 10.2 Mobile statistics
      • 10.2.1 General statistics
      • 10.2.2 Mobile broadband
      • 10.2.3 Forecasts – mobile subscribers – 2018; 2020; 2022
    • 10.3 Regulatory issues
      • 10.3.1 SIM card registration
      • 10.3.2 Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
    • 10.4 Major mobile operators
      • 10.4.1 TNM
      • 10.4.2 Airtel Malawi (formerly Zain, Celtel)
      • 10.4.3 G-Mobile (GAIN)
      • 10.4.4 Celcom Malawi
      • 10.4.5 Lacell Private (Smart Mobile)
    • 10.5 Mobile Infrastructure
      • 10.5.1 SMS
      • 10.5.2 Third Generation (3G)
      • 10.5.3 Long-term Evolution (LTE)
    • 10.6 Mobile applications and services
      • 10.6.1 m-money
  • 11. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Malawi – 2017 (e)
  • Table 2 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 3 – Internet provider statistics – 2017
  • Table 4 – Internet and broadband statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
  • Table 7 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Malawi – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 8 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Malawi – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 9 – International bandwidth – 2001 - 2016
  • Table 10 – Historic - Internet users and penetration rate – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 11 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 12 – Fixed internet subscribers and penetration – 2000 - 2017
  • Table 13 – Fixed broadband subscribers – 2003 - 2018
  • Table 14 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Malawi – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 15 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Malawi – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 16 – Active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration in Malawi – 2010 - 2017
  • Table 17 – Forecast – mobile subscribers in Malawi – 2018; 2020; 2022
  • Table 18 – TNM financial results – 2009 – 2017
  • Table 19 – TNM ARPU ($) – 2003 - 2013
  • Table 20 – TNM ARPU (MWK) – 2014 - 2016
  • Table 21 – TNM mobile subscribers – 2012 - 2016
  • Table 22 – TNM mobile bases stations in service – 2014 - 2016
  • Chart 1 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Malawi – 2005 – 2018
  • Chart 2 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2005 – 2018
  • Chart 3 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2002 - 2018
  • Chart 4 – TNM financial results – 2009 – 2017

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