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Competition authorities in Malawi fine mobile operator Airtel

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Malawi's competition regulator fined local subsidiary of Indian mobile operator Airtel $2.6 million on Wednesday.

The fine was imposed by the Competition and Trade Commission after an investigation prompted by complaints from customers.

The complaints "accused Airtel Malawi of having stopped automatically crediting its customers' accounts with monthly bonuses" of call credits due under a loyalty programme.

The competition authorities estimated that the company had made a profit equivalent to $2.6 million, therefore fining it the same amount.

Airtel Malawi is a subsidiary of the Indian group Bharti Airtel, present in 18 countries in Africa and Asia presenting itself as the largest mobile operator in Africa.

Bharti Airtel's annual turnover - $14 billion for the 2020-2021 fiscal year - is greater than the GDP of Malawi - $12 billion in 2020 according to the World Bank - a country whose GDP per capita ranks among the 15 lowest in the world.

In a statement, Airtel Malawi's managing director Charles Kamoto "denied the accusations made" and added that "the company is pursuing the matter in court."

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