Malawi telecom operators form association, Airtel’s Chilima its President

Malawi telecommunications licensed and operational operators have formed an association called Association of Telecommunications Operators Limited (ATOL) which was launched in Blantyre on Tuesday evening.

Speaking at the launch, its new President, Airtel’s Managing Director Saulos Chilima said the association is aimed at providing the operators with a single platform with which they can articulate and attend to matters of common interest relevant to the telecommunications industry.

Common interest

“The idea of forming ATOL arose after we noticed that there was need for all operators to work jointly and speak with one voice on matters of their common interest,” said Chilima.

Chilima: ATOL president

“We recognise that we are separate legal entities with different commercial and strategic interests. But we also realise that we share various common interest in our dealings with the media, consumers,  the Government and other crucial stakeholders like our regulator, The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra),” said Chilima.

He also said through ATOL, operators will engage with government and the regulator on matters relating to the enhancement of a liberalised and competitive environment for the telecommunications industry through the formulation and implementation of appropriate policies, legislation and economic incentives.

Forum of ideas

Chilima also stressed that ATOL provides the operators with a forum on which they can share and exchange ideas, amicably resolve issues and coordinate their business and commercial interests.

“There are times where operators can share towers in specific areas and you may find that some costs for some operators have been reduced and they can pass on the benefits of these to the customer,” said Chilima.

Chilima said ATOL was registered with the Registrar General’s office on January 31, 2012 and that from February; ATOL was in its formative stages under the chairmanship of MTL.

“I therefore would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Charles Chuka and Mr Elias Imaan for steering the association up to now,” said Chilima who also informed that the presidency of the association would be rotational among the chief executive officers of the four mobile operators namely Airtel Malawi, TNM, MTL and Access Communications Limited for a period of six months.

‘Spy machine’

Chilima denied in an interview later that the association has been formed with the aim of fighting the implementation by Macra of the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management Systems (CIRMS) machine popularly known as the ‘spy machine’.

“We have agreed that as an association and as individual operators, will not be commenting on the Cirms machine but the formation of this association started way back before the introduction of the Cirms machine,” added Chilima.

Among those who attended the launch included MTL Chief Commercial Officer Elias Imaan, TNM Chief Executive Officer Willem Swart, Access General Manager Mc Arthur Mtila and Macra’s Director of Finance and Administration Ben Chitsonga.

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