Malawi should soon have a third mobile operator after the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) said it is close to granting Malcel a license.

MACRA is hoping that the move will drive competition against the nation's other mobile operators Airtel and Telekom Networks Malawi.

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Malcel, founded by experienced telecoms figure Bonface Ndawala, plans to deploy its network in Q4 this year, with plans for the first phone call to be made on the network in Q4 2023.

Local publication Nyasa Times reported that Malcel wants to 'level the playing field' in Malawi's digital economy, while bringing prices down.

MACRA director general Daud Suleman is reported as saying: "We are still in the process of working with them until the gazetting of the license as per law and regulations. The financial viability and stability of their application assured us and we will continue to work with them as they start their operations in the country."

Suleman adds that it's good for the economy, while the introduction of Malcel will also create employment opportunities.

Malcel is part-owned by Bedrock Holdings, which owns a 30 percent stake, and Danish MVNO Eferio Communications, which owns a 60 percent stake. The remaining 10 percent is set to owned by other local or foreign stakeholders, adds Ndawala.

Bedrock Holdings' share in the company is significant as it's Malawian-based and is owned by former employees of Celtel and Zain. It's comprised of local telecoms executives.

Malcel has set out plans to invest over $250 million in the next five years, with plans to raise an additional $30m from other investors. The operator wants to match its domestic rivals and deploy 1,300 sites during this period.

Ndawala, who is also CEO at Malcel, boasts over 20 years experience within the telecoms industry and has notably worked for Zain, Cell C, Malswitch (now Nitel), Globacom, and Seamless Distribution Systems AB, in various roles spanning numerous African countries.

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