Malawi Telecommu-nications Limited (MTL) wants a private sector partner to co-own and co-operate the fibre optic cable (FOC) national back bone to provide a robust infrastructure to facilitate telecommunication services in the country, an official has said.
The telecommunications firm boasts of the widest fibre optic network that the entire country can benefit from based on its coverage.
The company, according to its chief executive officer Harry Gombachika, wants to involve partners in the establishment of a private sector driven national FOC backbone that will offer services to other telecoms players as a carrier of carriers and help in fast-tracking information and communication technology (ICT) development in Malawi.
Gombachika said the joint venture partners will enable them to effectively use the capacity of the current FOC backbone driven by the private sector.
“A special purpose vehicle [SPV] will be established that can operate at arms-length with MTL and all other telecoms operators. Both MTL and the selected partner[s] will have an equity stake in the SPV,” he said in a statement.
Telecommunications experts argue that the biggest challenge faced by telecommunications operators is the cost of infrastructure coupled with the high cost of international bandwidth, translating to the cost of accessing telecommunication services for the consumer.
But Gombachika said the partnership will help to bring down the cost of telecommunications.
“It will also act as an enabler to the enhancement of the economy by allowing other players in the telecommunications industry to co-own the fibre optic cable backbone without having to waste the country’s forex resources to establish their own fibre based network.
“The growth potential for the telecommunications sector remains strong as consumers continue to migrate from fixed telephony to mobile telephony using alternative communications solutions such as VoIP (voice over Internet protocol), messaging, e-mail and social network chats (Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter) mainly due to the widespread diffusion of smartphones and tablets,” he said.
MTL fibre backbone is currently the only fibre network linking Malawi to East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) through Tanzania in the North and Mozambique in the south eastern side and south western side of the country with full redundancies between Blantyre and Mzuzu.