Airtel Malawi, a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, which has had its operating licence renewed for 10 more years, is investing $42 million (about K18.9 billion) in the current financial year for network expansion to boost its services.
Airtel Malawi managing director Saulos Chilima said the planned activities include the connection of optic fibre cable, continuation of solar deployment, 3G expansion, replacement of equipment and postpaid system upgrade.
“As a unified global brand, we are proud to be playing a key role of assisting millions of people unleash the economic potential that Malawi, Africa and part of Asia has to offer, by providing them with modern telecoms service,” he said.
Chilima was speaking on Thursday in Lilongwe at the Bingu International Conference Centre when the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) handed over the renewed operating licence to Airtel Malawi.
The mobile phone company has over the past 15 years evolved from Celtel to Zain and now Airtel Malawi.
Chilima said over the years, the company has let Malawians talk, made their lives better and have also endeavoured to give their customers a wonderful world.
“And it is our belief that in the process, we have also delighted many apart from our customers,” he said, at a function that attracted a cross-section of people including, government officials, business captains and chief executive officers of various companies.
But Chilima said as a company, the journey has not been a smooth sail, recalling some time in March 2007 when their network was incapacitated for 11 days after their equipment in Blantyre was gutted by fire.
Macra board chairperson Martha Kwataine said in approving the renewal of the licence, the regulator conducted a thorough assessment of the company’s performance and compliance with its licence terms and conditions over the past 15 years.
“The assessment conducted on Airtel revealed that the company significantly contributed to the country’s socio-economic growth, developed innovative products and services and met most of its licence obligations,” she said, urging the company to take their footprints to the remotest areas of Malawi in line with universal services obligations.
However, Kwataine said the performance assessment also revealed that the company failed to meet some consumer-related obligations and hoped that it will meet the new terms and conditions of the licence they negotiated with government.
Secretary for Information and Civic Education Lucky Sikwese hailed Airtel Malawi for the telecommunications strides achieved over the years and urged the company to improve on its services for the betterment of the rural people.
Airtel Malawi is one of the four local telecommunications companies and the others are TNM, Malawi Telecommunications Limited and Access Communications Limited.