TNM tips Macra on licence renewal

By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi

As the 15-year-old operation licence for one of Malawi’s two mobile phone companies draws near its expiry date, the company, Telekom Networks Malawi Limited (TNM) has issued a statement in the local media giving tips to the licensee Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to follow a renewal process that is fair, transparent, predictable, value adding and participatory.

Telekom Networks Malawi Limited (TNM) says it submitted a licence renewal application to MACRA on 26th August 2013, in line with the Legal and Regulatory requirements enshrined in both Malawi Communications Act, 1998 and TNM’s operating licence.

TNM’s original licence was gazetted on 27th August, 1999 and was scheduled to operate for a period of 15 years; meaning it must therefore be renewed before 26th August, 2014.

“We are now ready to take on the second phase of our history in our quest to build a great company and serve the people of Malawi,” declared the company.

TNM says in the notice that in its application, it has requested that MACRA follow principles and processes which it has listed, to ensure an open, and transparent and consultative renewal exercise.

The company starts by commending both Government and MACRA for what it calls promoting investor confidence, but calls on the regulator to give incentives for long term investment.

“This may be achieved by favouring the principle of ‘renewal expectancy’ or ‘presumption of renewal’ but also by promoting regulatory certainty and predictability through a fair, transparent and participatory renewal process,” this is according to Malawi’s pioneer mobile phone company.

TNM makes a request to MACRA to adopt what it calls internationally accepted standards and procedures for the licence renewal process.

“This will not only influence market entry but most importantly, will also influence market entry but most importantly, will also influence the post-entry competitiveness of market players,” the company says, before adding: “It also has major implications for investors, consumers, and the development of the telecommunication as a whole.”

The company says its long term business plans are built upon current licence terms and conditions, therefore, warns MACRA that any material changes to these conditions shall have a major impact on pricing of the company’s products and services rendered to its customers.

“TNM will therefore welcome a renewal exercise that is carried out to protect the interests of all stakeholders as provided by Section 4 of the Communications Act, 1998,” the company says.

The company then recommends that MACRA follow the option of public consultation which it says, believes is an important process for engaging stakeholders in the decision making process and it strengthens the perception of a transparent licence renewal process.

“This will allow the new licence terms and conditions to take into account both the concerns of the operators and consumers,” the company says.

TNM says the timing of MACRA’s decision is very crucial to avoid delays which may disrupt business operations as TNM will be hard pressed to make significant investment decisions during the waiting period.

“TNM appreciates the support that it continues to enjoy from both the Malawi Government and the people of Malawi sustained throughout the entire period of our existence,” the company declared in the notice.

It further states that with this support, the company has grown its subscriber base to over 2 million and has been one of the foundations of the new economy in Malawi.

TNM says also it believes a healthy and passionate telecommunication industry in Malawi will enable operators to continue investing in the expansion of infrastructure and the development of new technologies, which it says will ensure that Malawi stays at the forefront of the developments in the ICT Industry

MACRA Director General Charles Nsaliwa could not state the position of the regulatory body on TNM’s tips when asked to comment.

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