Could the Malawian iGaming business flourish, given the country’s goal of achieving 80 percent Internet connectivity?

iGaming businesses and prospective investors seeking to take advantage of the many possibilities that the African gambling industry has presented over the years have been waiting for the development of the Malawi iGaming sector for far too long. Malawi’s iGaming business is still in its infancy, but there is a lot of unmet demand in the country.

As opposed to other noteworthy African nations, where top iGaming companies have significant traction among their online client base, the Malawian online gaming sector is growing at an extremely sluggish rate. Despite the fact that the Malawi Gambling Authority (MGB) published a call for interested operators to apply for sports licenses, casino licenses, and other gaming licenses in 2019, the MGB has yet to receive any applications. In order to broaden the country’s gaming scene, a portion of the plan calls for an increase in the number of casinos, sports betting, and more progressive gaming licenses in Malawi, among other measures.

Despite this, there has been no new entry report of operators in Malawi since 2019. This indicates that the initiative has been unsuccessful. With the exception of current gambling companies such as Premierbet, Premier Lotto, Casino Marina in Lilongwe, and KaiRo International Colony Club Casino, they are all in the process of establishing themselves. This shortcoming has been linked to the country’s inadequate internet connectivity, which has made it difficult to recruit top iGaming companies and investors to the country’s gaming industry in the first place.

A number of failures have befallen the Malawian iGaming business over the course of the last decade.

For the most part, as previously said, this is due to poor internet connection and penetration rates, as well as the high cost of internet bundles for the majority of Malawians. According to the United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, the internet is considered cheap when 1.5 gigabytes of unbundled mobile data is priced at no more than 2 percent of the average monthly household income.

As a point of reference, the current average monthly salary for Malawians is K29,200 (about $40.96), while 1 Gigabyte of unbundled data costs around K5 000.00 (approximately $6.86) for a period of 30 days. In Malawi, cellphone data is very costly, as shown by this chart. This implies that the internet will continue to be out of reach for the vast majority of Malawians.

Because of this, the Malawian government has announced a new initiative, with the goal of increasing internet connection to 80 percent of the population by 2025, up from the current rate of 14 percent. According to the Malawi Digital Economic Plan (2021-2026), device ownership will increase from 51 percent to 80 percent by 2026. This strategy is being developed by the National Planning Commission and will be implemented simultaneously (NPC). According to the authorities, having access to cheap internet will allow the nation to preserve the environment more effectively and efficiently. Meanwhile, they are progressing toward urbanization and industrialisation in accordance with Malawi’s 2063 development plan. As previously stated, the cost of mobile devices and internet bandwidth is the most major impediment to widespread adoption of these technologies.

In order to achieve these objectives, the government plans to phase out the 10 percent excise duty on internet data and text package purchases,

as well as the 3.5 percent turnover tax imposed by MACRA on ICT service providers, as soon as possible. The authorities also stated that taxes and excise charges would be eliminated, and that gadget prices would be reduced by 22.5 percent this year and 15 percent the next year. This is a positive step for the gaming sector, since one of the major obstacles to the growth of the iGaming business in Malawi has been the lack of access to high-speed internet. It also shows that the country’s internet speed is 1.3 megabits per second (Mbps), which is decreasing in comparison to the worldwide average of 7.0 megabits per second.

Because of inadequate infrastructure management and a lack of investment, the slowdown of the economy has corresponded with an increase in expenses. The high cost of internet access has disproportionately affected Malawi’s poor, which was maybe unavoidable. The ability to access primary communications platforms by removing them from an increasingly digital world of essential services like financial services such as mobile money, mobile banking e-commerce platforms, and iGaming platforms could assist them in rising out of poverty and gaining access to primary communications platforms.

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