Celcom roll out doubtful

Malawi’s fourth telecom company Celcom Limited is finding it hard to convince international banks to provide capital, Nyasa Times understands.

The sources say although the company is backed by Malawi’s influential business giant, Mulli Brothers Limited most of the banks it has approached internationally are not willing to provide it loans due to its in efficient book-keeping systems.

When the company run by MD Ted Sauti-Phiri  was given a licence by Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra), its chairman Leston Mulli said it requires US$300 million to roll-out operations.

But Nyasa Timessources say this has faced technical glitches.

Sauti-Phiri: Financial backup eludes Celcom

“It seems the company has not been organizing proper financial reports and although orders for machinery have been done, international bank’s where they want to get loans are up to now not willing to release the money requested by Celcom,” said the sources.

They said the progress to beat its October 2012 target set by Macra  to roll out services such as voice telephony and mobile voice telephone is being highly affected because of lack of funding to start hiring personnel and installation of equipment for the phone network whose gadgets will come from China.

They further said local commercial banks do not have the financial muscle to satisfy large ventures such as establishment and sustainability of the sector as it requires advanced technologies.

“US$300 million for one company, in this case Celcom, is very huge in financial terms and the banks here in Malawi would just brush off that application, that is why other companies such as TNM and even NBS Bank have not performed well to the point of hunting for a strategic partners who would inject more funds in the firms,” said the source.

Macra said under its licence, Celcom must provide fixed-line and mobile services by October 2012.

This was after the company won a bid against Smart Telecom Limited of Malawi, Zambezi Africa Telecoms and C-Mobile Group Holdings.

Celcom became the country’s fourth telecoms provider after Airtel, Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL), TNM and G-Mobile which has not yet made an initial a call and has cases in court with Macra.

Celcom is 100%-owned by one of Malawi’s business conglomerates, the Mulli Brothers, which partners President Bingu wa Mutharika in other business firms.

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