Malawi - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Malawi introduces converged licensing regime

Malawi is one of the world’s least developed and poorest countries, beset in recent years by declining GDP growth, high inflation, and a rapidly depreciating currency. To add to these difficulties the country has one of the highest HIV rates in the world. Telcos have been affected by currency devaluation, 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 G-Mobile and Celcom Malawi to launch services. However, there is expectation that Lacell Private will launch services (under the Smart Mobile brand) by the end of 2016. This could provide the required impetus to the market, and lead to a welcome fall 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, 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, while Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) has invested in LTE infrastructure.

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.

Key developments:

  • TNM boasts 20% growth in mobile subscriber base for the first half of 2016;
  • TNM trials LTE technology;
  • Regulator revises licence regime under a new Converged Licensing Framework (CLF), running to August 2017;
  • Airtel Malawi partners Afrocoin Mobile Money to facilitate money transfers;
  • Regulator develops Universal Access Fund (UAF) to deliver mobile services to rural areas;
  • SIM card registration takes effect;
  • Broadband plan developed with ITU technical assistance;
  • TNM reports nearly one million users of its Mpamba m-money service;
  • 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, operator data to H1 2016.

Market penetration rates in Malawi’s telecoms sector – 2016 (e)

Penetration of telecoms services: Penetration
Fixed-line telephony 1.9%
Internet users 6.8%
Mobile SIM (population) 38.3%

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
      • 5.1.1 Malawi Communications Amendment Act
    • 5.2 ICT Policy
    • 5.3 Regulatory authority
    • 5.4 Telecom sector liberalisation
    • 5.5 Privatisation
    • 5.6 Converged licensing regime
    • 5.7 Universal service
    • 5.8 Interconnection
  • 6. Fixed network operators
    • 6.1 Malawi Telecommunications (MTL)
      • 6.1.1 CDMA fixed-wireless system (Liberty Phone)
    • 6.2 Access Communications
  • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 7.1 Overview of the national telecom network
      • 7.1.1 MTL
      • 7.1.2 Escom
    • 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 Malawi’s ISP market
    • 8.4 Fixed-line broadband technologies
      • 8.4.1 Other fixed broadband services
  • 9. Mobile market
    • 9.1 Market analysis
    • 9.2 Mobile statistics
      • 9.2.1 General statistics
      • 9.2.2 Mobile broadband
      • 9.2.3 Forecasts – mobile subscribers – 2016; 2018; 2021
    • 9.3 Major mobile operators
      • 9.3.1 TNM
      • 9.3.2 Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain, Celtel)
      • 9.3.3 G-Mobile (GAIN)
      • 9.3.4 Celcom Malawi
      • 9.3.5 Lacell Private (Smart Mobile)
    • 9.4 Mobile Infrastructure
      • 9.4.1 SMS
      • 9.4.2 Third Generation (3G)
      • 9.4.3 LTE
    • 9.5 Mobile applications and services
      • 9.5.1 m-money
  • 10. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Malawi – 2016 (e)
  • Table 2 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2016 (e)
  • Table 3 – Internet provider statistics – 2016
  • Table 4 – Internet and broadband statistics – 2016 (e)
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2016 (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 - 2017
  • Table 9 – International bandwidth – 2001 - 2015
  • Table 10 – Historic - Internet users and penetration rate – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 11 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2010 - 2017
  • Table 12 – Fixed internet subscribers and penetration – 2000 - 2017
  • Table 13 – Fixed broadband subscribers – 2003 - 2017
  • Table 14 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Malawi – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 15 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Malawi – 2010 - 2017
  • Table 16 – Active mobile broadband subscribers and penetration in Malawi – 2010 - 2016
  • Table 17 – Forecast – mobile subscribers in Malawi – 2016; 2018; 2021
  • Table 18 – TNM financial results – 2009 – 2016
  • 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 - 2015
  • Chart 1 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Malawi – 2005 – 2017
  • Chart 2 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2005 – 2017
  • Chart 3 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2002 - 2017
  • Chart 4 – TNM financial results – 2009 – 2016

Related Reports

Purchase this Report

US$515.00

Licence Information

Share this Report

Purchase with Confidence

Just a quick note to say thank for your helpful reports. I`ve used them a couple of times over the years and I found your talk at CeBIT, very interesting indeed.

Matt Joyce, IT manager, Medtronic

Special Offers

Peru - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
US$360.00 until 8 Mar 2017
(normal price US$720.00)

Colombia - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
US$380.00 until 8 Mar 2017
(normal price US$765.00)

Chile - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
US$350.00 until 8 Mar 2017
(normal price US$700.00)

Sample Reports

A selection of downloadable samples from our Annual Publications catalogue.


Download a Sample Report

More than 4,000 customers from 140 countries utilise BuddeComm Research

Are you interested in BuddeComm's Consulting Services?

News & Views

Have the latest telecommunications industry news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to Paul's FREE weekly News & Views.