Macra ‘bulldozed’ to award Lacell Malawi mobile licence

Controversy has ensued in Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) after some board members have confided in Nyasa Times that they are being bulldozed in granting a licence to another mobile operator.

Kumbatira: Current information

Kumbatira: Current information

In 2008 the Macra board looked at the bids of six companies in an international tender process.

During the bid Milcom scored highly with 90.5 percent, followed by Expresso Telecom Group of Dubai which scored 82 %.

Then VivaCell MTS Consortium from British Virgin Islands scored 81%, Lebanon-based multi-national telecommunication provider Comium Group scored 75%, Lacell of Singapore got 60 % and Forward Ranchers got 60%.

However, despite Lacell, which uses the brand name Smart Mobile, scoring lowly, the board was being “bulldozed” to allow it roll out its services.

Macra boss Andrew Kumbatira has however said Lacell linked to Farook Sattar is being awarded “based on current information.”

He said the other frontrunners were either disqualified or pulled out.

Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa said the new board would like to “renegotiate” with Lacell on terms and conditions of licensing,

But board members confided with Nyasa Times that they are being bulldozed by Malawi government “most powerful” man Ben Phiri from State House to give Lacell the licence “in whatever situation.”

Phiri who is special aide to the President could not answer his phones when contacted several times.

The other cellular network operators in the Southern African country are Airtel Malawi, a subsidiary of Pan-African mobile operator Balti, and TNM, which is owned by Malawian conglomerate Press Corporation.

The two established mobile phone network service providers share a market of over 1, 5-million subscribers, and the Malawi government intends granting further mobile phone network licences in order to increase the number of phone users in the country, which has a 13-million-strong population.

A BBC report recently said International Telecommunications Union (ITU) puts on average Malawians use more than $12 (£7.70) a month on mobile phones.

This is more than half of what an ordinary Malawian earns in a month.

Marca’s Ben Chisonga says the government might have to intervene to bring down the tariffs.

“We are thinking of introducing more data players in the market,” he says.

“For the current players, we are thinking of reducing the interconnection rates, which are about four cents per minute, which we believe, is the highest in the continent.”

Meanwhile, after Nyasa Times reported that Macra board was divided over the overpricing of the ‘spy machine’ upgrade, the regulator’s deputy director general Francis Bisika has confirmed that board members expressed reservations during the meeting.

However, Bisika claimed in The Nation that they changed their mind after an explanation but the paper said board members maintained the board rejected the upgrading price of the machine after being briefed on the development.

The board members added that Macra was warned that the price increase for mere upgrading was dangerous as it would sway the public opinion against government considering the economic challenges the country is facing.

“The issue was just bulldozed because it seems some people have personal interests,” the paper quoted a board member whose identity was shielded.

Many observers have noted underhand tactics in the issue of ‘spy machine’ upgrade and mobile operator licence.

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30 thoughts on “Macra ‘bulldozed’ to award Lacell Malawi mobile licence”

  1. citizen okwiya says:

    A Malawi, we need to put stop to these behaviours of these people using political connections to find their way through.


  2. kadamanja says:

    Ben Phiri watumidwa ndi mbuyache Pitala, otsamangotukwana Ben tukwanani Peter uyo zamkutu!

  3. Think Tank says:

    Mr Ben Phiri,please limit your powers according to your job description. Excess powers boomerang in future. Right now you are busy punishing people in the previous government for whatever they were doing while in power. History has a knack of repeating itself. Leave MACRA do its professional work. Take or leave it. Ecclesiastes 11 vs 9 gives good advice: be happy,young man,while you are you…. But know know that for all these things……

  4. Muyao says:

    Just award the licenses macra ,we want competition in Malawi.

  5. Phodogoma says:

    MACRA do you want we in the government to FEAR you. We are almost the same executive positions. We can share notes as long as we in the government we feel that our people can benefit. People of Malawi be calm. I remember many people did not like the issue conrcening the CHINESE when they were landing on Malawian soil. But look today. China has brought more good than harm. So be cool. Singaporean Lacell will reduce the price of the phone calls as you are crying now, the poorest people in the world.

  6. gada says:

    Ben Phiri ndi munthu woyipa kwambiri.tikukuwonatu.akangopatsidwa licence imeneyo.tionetsana.ndaramayo ukaidyera kuti?

  7. Kulibe kantu says:

    Who is this Ben Phiri? Please board members put you foot down. Just tell this Phiri guy to stay away. Do your work without political interference. Don’t look cheap. That is why some of us do not want to work in government. I can’t take nonsense!

  8. Mahikili Bantu Blake says:

    Mr Ben Phiri this is your time enjoy the treasures of this world, our loyalty is intact to DPP despite inu kutipondereza sitizafooka we will soldier on until we drop dead 2019 tiyithamanganso campaign sitisintha ma nambala anthu kuti tizapezeke msanga mukatifuna ZIKOMO

  9. Bigdwag says:


  10. Kokotowa says:

    Who the fuck is Farook Sattar?

  11. ujeni says:

    Ben Phiri from being a poor and quiet usher at Calvery Family Church to A Powerful Man at State house. Cry for poorest country for it is for your own making for sure. Hyenas are ruling at night

  12. Big Man wankulu says:

    According to BBC, are Malawi’s tariffs high as % Malawians per capita income or based on comparing tarrifs in each country. I feel BBC got it wrong here. It is the cost of providing service plus profit margin, which should matter. if u cant afford cellphones based on per capita income, then stop the expensive habit. You know what, the rise in population due to uncontrolled births in the villages is spoiling economic indicators of our country and painting wrong picture.

  13. ndadabwa says:

    a ben phiri simunayambe lero kuba. kutereku mwapanga ndi peter mutharika kuti mubere style imeneyo. mukunanamizira upgrading. anthu inu mulibe manyazi m’bale wanu anaba 92 billion anakabisa kunja. inu mwayambapo. tamva kale kuti 13 million ipita ku forein account ya peter ku usa

  14. Khongoni Boy says:

    Kkkkkk R We Chickens That Cry For Za Ziiiiii Zoona

  15. Kadakwiza says:

    Am relieved that in all this mess in Malawi government at least a Tumbuka is not there. Zonse zikuchitika ndi anthu a ku mwera ndi pakati. A ku mpoto ali phee kuyang’ana kuti zitha bwanji.

  16. Nkasai says:

    Mr President put your boys on a leash otherwise they will bite of your hard earned trust we have for u .Katangale too much eesh!

  17. ben says:

    Give all 6 licences so the mobile fees should come down as we are the most expensive tariffs in the world

  18. Okay says:

    I think Bingu was right when he likened Malawians to chickens that cry at sight of anything. Mulira pyoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  19. Guley says:

    Name two characteristics of a poorest country on earth (2marks).
    bulldozing contracts award, party zealots threatening CEO

  20. Mulungu alipo says:

    Malawi is Malawi

  21. Achimidzimidzi says:

    Upgrading a machine which has never been in use ridiculous and disgusting.

    And bulldozing board members is just deadly, evil and unacceptable.
    Let board contribute freely and effectively to business of MACRA.

    Ben Phiri your day is coming. Ask Lucius Banda for his song.

    Previously, I thought Mr. Kumbatira is a strong man, nay. He is as flimsy as cotton wool. He is handy puppet wherever heads.

  22. Dudu says:

    Cry my beloved Malawi.

  23. wanda says:

    Useless and shameful govt. Go to hell.

  24. Tengupenya says:

    Ngati mufuna network yo tchipa go Lebanese!

  25. Malawiana says:

    This is not a strange happening in the poorest country on earth with no hope of redemption.

  26. GUANTANAMO says:

    Ben Phiri is Malawi’s strongest man? He must be careful. Look at what happened to fellow strong men in the country’s history: Kanyama, Muwalo, Gadama and lastly Tembo during MCP. Multiparty has had the following strongmen: Mpinganjira, Chaponda and now I hear of Ben Phiri. We are watching!

  27. Bob says:

    Ben Phiri whats wrong with you? You want to ruin this government. Shame on you.

  28. Duze says:

    As a computer expert, the spy machine comprises rack computer servers on which software is loaded. Nothing special. MACRA would do well to tender the software and hardware separately. There will be many other suppliers who will bid for the business. When you bundle the hardware and software together, the software supplier will subcontract the hardware bit and make huge margins as a package. Wake up Malawians.

    1. Malawiana says:

      Thanks for awakening us really.

  29. nachos ale says:

    These are some of the tendencies which are pushing our country backward. The selection will not be based on professional ethics. Kodi tizasiya liti? You are talking of reforms. Now what is this? Able anga let’s love our nation. Nobody will come from somewhere to develop it. Inde Mmalawi wokhumudwa. There are many issues to be looked into as a country, ndiye Choncho.

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