Could Malawi iGaming industry boom–As 80% Internet Connectivity the Target

The Malawi iGaming industry remains untapped and long overdue for iGaming companies and potential investors looking to tap into the abundance of opportunities the Africa gambling industry poses over the years. The iGaming industry in Malawi is yet to take-off and has been full of pent-up demand.

The Malawian iGaming industry is growing at a slow pace, unlike other notable African countries where top iGaming brands experience considerable traction of the online customer base. Even though in 2019, the Malawi Gambling Authority (MGB) made a publication for interested operators to apply for sports licenses, casino, and other gaming licenses. So to expand the country’s gaming landscape and part of the proposal is to increase the numbers of casinos, sports betting, and additional progressive permissions in Malawi.

This move has not been met with success because there has not been a new entrant report of operators in Malawi since 2019. They are except for the existing gaming operators such as Premierbet, Premier Lotto, Casino Marina in Lilongwe, and KaiRo International Colony Club Casino. This sideline has been attributed to the country’s poor internet access as not attract top iGaming brands and investors to consider the market.

The Malawi iGaming industry has been met with numerous setbacks over the years. As mentioned earlier, it is attributed to low internet connectivity, penetration rate, and unaffordable internet bundle for most of the Malawian population. The UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development defines the internet as affordable when 1.5 gigabytes of unbundled mobile data are priced at no more than 2 percent of average monthly income.

In comparison, the current average monthly income for Malawians is K29, 200 (about $40.96), while 1 Gigabyte of unbundled data cost is about K5 000.00 (about $6.86) for 30 days. This shows just how expensive mobile data is in Malawi. This means that the internet remains unaffordable for the majority of Malawians.

Consequently, they as been a new development from the Malawian government, which has set a target of 80% internet connectivity by 2025; by achieving these aims, the authority plans to increase network access for internet usage to 80 percent of the population from the current level of 14%. Simultaneously, device ownership from 51percent to 80 percent by 2026, according to the Malawi Digital Economic strategy (2021-2026); this is prepared by the National Planning Commission (NPC). The authorities said access to affordable internet would enable the country to protect the environment. At the same time, they are achieving urbanization and industrialization in line with Malawi’s 2063 agenda. As mentioned, affordability is the most significant barrier to the uptake of mobile devices and internet data.

While achieving these goals, the government intends to phase out the 10% excise duty on internet data and text package purchases and the 3.5% imposed by MACRA on turnover of ICT service providers. The authorities also confirmed removing taxes and excise duties and would lower device costs by 22.5% this year and 15% in the coming year. This development is welcoming for the gaming industry, and one of the draw-back of the iGaming industry in Malawi has been internet broadband connection. It also reveals that the country’s internet speed is 1.3 Mbps, which is getting worse against a global average of 7.0Mbps.

The slowing speed has coincided with rising costs due to poor infrastructure management and lack of investment. Perhaps inevitable, the high price of the internet has hit Malawi poor the hardest. Setting them out of an increasingly digital world of essential services like financial services, such as mobile money, mobile banking e-commerce platforms, and the iGaming platforms could help lift them out of poverty and access primary communications platforms.

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