Malcel Plc pledges to deploy 5G in cities, 4G LTE in suburban areas and to roll out 1,300 sites in five years

* The new wholly Malawian-owned new mobile service provider trending on Africa Telecom Review website

* We have on board a team of talented experts who have vast experience in the mobile service industry

* With mobile penetration at less than 50%, if you take out multisimmers, there is a good prospect for growth in voice

* And with data penetration at less than 20%, there is a massive opportunity for data growth

By Duncan Mlanjira

New mobile service provider Malcel Plc, which was granted 3 operating licenses by Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) last month, is already trending on Africa Telecom Review website — describing it as ‘A dream in Malawi made concrete’.

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In an interview with Africa Telecom Review published on Friday, chief executive officer and a founding member, Bonface Ndawala, said they have on board a team of talented experts who have vast experience in the mobile service industry and pledged to bring state-of-the-art technology to Malawi.

“We will deploy 5G in cities and 4G LTE in suburban areas,” he told the publication. “We intend to roll out 1,300 sites in five years.”

Asked why he opted to bid for a license specifically in Malawi, Ndawala said: “Malawi is probably the only place on the continent where there is still a healthy opportunity for growth.

“With mobile penetration at less than 50%, if you take out multisimmers, there is a good prospect for growth in voice, and with data penetration at less than 20%, there is a massive opportunity for data growth.

“With financial inclusion at less than 20%, there is lots of scope for growth, and with only two meaningful operators, there is room for a third operator to come in. Additionally, Malawi has a young population where its majority is below the age of 25, so there is a big market for the masses for those who can see it.”

Ndawala being granted the licences by Minister of Information & Digitalisation Gospel Kazako

Malcel aims to be Malawi’s first digital network operator with a goal of providing digital solutions to everyday problems for their customers — joining five other mobile service providers, TNM, Airtel Malawi, MTL, Access and Nyasa Mobile.

In deploying 5G in cities and 4G LTE in suburban areas as well as rolling out 1,300 sites in five years, Ndawala is confident that they would match the other operators, especially TNM, Airtel Malawi, saying: “We are also coming into the market as a solution-based digital network provider — we intend to bring lots of solutions to people’s everyday problems.

“The team that is delivering the rollout are all veterans in the telecoms space, mostly ex-Celtel and Zain. We know the market very well; we know the industry very well; and we each have at least 20 years of experience in telecoms, not only in Malawi but also in Africa.

“I have had the privilege of working in 10 different markets over the past 22 years, including big players like Celtel/Zain, Globacom and Cell C.

“Davie Huwa, our CTO, is the man that built the Celtel Malawi network from the ground up, so we know what we are doing here.”

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He added that Malcel’s long-term ambition is to be the biggest fintech firm in Malawi intends to eventually be listed on the Malawi Stock Exchange and potentially other regional stock exchanges as well.

“We intend to be the go-to solution provider for Malawi and to have an impact on our society — not only in telecoms but also beyond.”

He was reminded by the interviewer that growth and development need partnerships, asking who are Malcel’s allies in their journey, to which Ndawala said: “Our major partners in this endeavour are Huawei; Digital Infrastructure Holdings (DIH) through their Tower Vertical Tasc Towers; Seamless Distribution Systems for our distribution; and Oracle for our ERP solutions and IT infrastructure.”

On short and long term, Ndawala promised Malawian consumers to expect something very special from Malcel, saying: “We will deploy a brand-new, robust network with clear voice calls, fast data speeds, fair pricing of our services and, above all, a beautiful customer experience.

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“We believe that what will sell is the experience that customers have on our network. In the long term, Malawians should expect innovation and solutions that will address their everyday needs. We intend to be a relevant provider of services to the population.”

On the challenges through CoVID-19 and its impact on global economy,  Ndawala said the lessons from the pandemic brought about opportunities as well, saying “it has shown that work can be done remotely.

“It has also accelerated the masses’ acceptance of digital distribution, which is what we will use. We will not deploy any physical scratch cards on the market — instead, just airtime-distributed, digitally serviceable devices.

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