Celcom Limited, a wholly-owned Malawian telecommunications company, has proposed to the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) to amend some provisions in its licence to extend roll-out period for another three years.
The company, which was awarded a technology-neutral licence to provide both fixed and mobile telephony services in May 2011, has cited shortage of foreign exchange, among other reasons, for affecting the rolling out of its services, according to Macra director general Charles Nsaliwa.
“The licensee [Celcom] shall roll-out and commence provision of its fixed or mobile voice telephony services to the general public in the coverage area set out in the phase one of the schedule one within 39 months [three years and three months] from the effective date failing which this licence maybe revoked in accordance with Clause 27 hereof,” he said.
The telecommunications regulator gave Celcom until October 2012 to roll-out its services, but the company asked for a six-month extension period up to April this year, citing shortage of foreign exchange.
Malawi was last year hit by a shortage of foreign exchange, a development that crippled the operations of a number of companies in the economy.
Currently, the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has said the availability of foreign exchange has markedly improved, citing companies’ capacity utilisation which is above 50 percent.
But Nsaliwa said pursuant to Section 23 of the Communications Act, the general public and all interested persons are requested to make any written representations on the proposed amendments which should reach the regulatory within 21 days from the date of the publication of the notice.
The country’s telecommunications sector has Airtel Malawi, TNM in the mobile section and Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) and Access Communications Limited in the fixed phone business.
Celcom Limited is a subsidiary of MBL Holdings, which has interests in the agriculture, transport and energy sectors, among others.
Last week, MBL Holdings chief executive officer Leston Mulli complained that the switch of power from late Bingu wa Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to President Joyce Banda’s Peoples Party (PP) has led to loss of government contracts resulted in ‘liquidity problems’.
He said this has compelled the company to fire about 5 200 people.
“We are operating on a slow scale. We have no choice but to downsize,” said Mulli.