With a population of 19 million (2020) and a gross national income per capita per year of only $360, according to the World Bank in 2018, land-locked Malawi in Africa currently has two mobile network operators and one fixed-line operator. However, internet penetration is low at 14.2% with rural areas outside the main towns and cities either not covered, unreliably covered, or unaffordably covered by any kind of network.
Leading pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom last month announced that it is providing its multi-award-winning managed VSAT connectivity services to mbora, a pioneering new social enterprise in Malawi. mbora provides people living and working in rural areas with free connectivity at a community hub. It has also built a super app to help increase digital inclusion by providing access to useful and relevant information and services online including finance and healthcare. Content and service organisations are able to use the app as a marketplace to reach important food producing farming and fishing communities in rural sub Saharan Africa.
Liquid Telecom is providing mbora with its own VSAT network. Each mbora hub is serviced with broadband speeds of up to 36mbps, which in turn enables mbora and its content partners to digitally deliver their services to mbora users over a free internet connection. Liquid Telecom is using the latest High-Throughput-Satellite of its long-term partner Intelsat and providing an uncapped data service to mbora.
The first community hub is now live in a lake shore village near Mangochi, Malawi, a four-hour drive from the country’s capital, Lilongwe. mbora is aiming to build 150 hubs encircling Lake Malawi and to expand across the region. mbora chose Liquid Telecom after evaluating all of its connectivity options from both domestic and pan-African operators.
Adrian Raisbeck, Founder and CEO of mbora, said, “Malawi is one of the world’s least developed and poorest countries and yet it is blessed with great soils and the third largest body of water on the African continent. Rural communities in Malawi should be living wealthy and resilient livelihoods.”
Fast and cost-effective connectivity is vital to mbora’s ability to providing Malawi with an alternative effective approach to rural development. We need to work with an operator that we trust and Liquid Telecom’s reputation is second to none. Its VSAT team are an extraordinary group of individuals who bought into our vision of launching rural economies with mbora Hubs acting as connected marketplaces and wealth creation platforms.
Liquid Telecom Satellite’s CEO Scott Mumford immediately recognised the importance of our work and he and his team have bent over backwards to customise their offering to exactly meet our needs. The uncapped service is fantastic and will enable us to quickly expand our service across the region”.
Scott Mumford, CEO of Liquid Telecom Satellite Services, said, “mbora is our first partner in Malawi, and also authorised to resell our VSAT services. We share mbora’s beliefs that online connectivity is a basic human right and that digital and financial inclusion are vital to future economic growth. We look forward to connecting more of mbora’s community hubs to support their purpose of redefining rural development in Sub-Saharan Africa”.
Liquid Telecom provides VSAT connectivity to MNOs, carriers, enterprises, media and content companies, retail customers and communities, schools and businesses across Africa. Liquid Telecom’s extensive satellite services complement its pan-African fibre network.
Overall, this will help help the wider ecosystem of Malawi in getting the people virtually connected.