Saturday, August 16, 2014

East African countries agree on a One-Network telecom area.

Four East African countries of Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan have agreed on a regional telecommunications framework to establish a “One-Network-Area” by 31st December 2014. According to reports, when fully operational, charges on phones calls within the region could drop by up to 60 percent. Subscribers travelling within the region will be charged as local subscribers in the visited country network. The subscriber will only incur prevailing calling rates of the visited network similar to what local subscribers pay. The One-Network-Area is being implemented following a directive of the 5th Heads of State Summit held in Kenya back in May 2014. At another summit in Rwanda on July 03, the leaders expressed satisfaction with progress. Regional line-ministries were directed to ensure the following: Exemption of regional calls from surcharges applied by member states on international incoming calls. No additional charges to subscribers on account of roaming within the region. And no charges for receiving calls while roaming within. Rwanda Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana said: “Regional telecoms and governments need to work together to achieve seamless roaming in the Northern Corridor which comprises Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.” Nasasira, Uganda’s Minister of ICT said: “It is important that our regional telecom operators work together to make this communication milestone a reality.” Operators within the region shall be required to re-negotiate their bilateral agreements to ensure the full implementation of the One-Network Area by 1st September 2014 for Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda and 31st December 2014 for South Sudan. Dr. Matiang’i, the Cabinet Secretary, Kenya’s Ministry of ICT said the telecom industry has to come together to establish a permanent platform that allows the sector to grow to benefit consumers. The launch of the One-Network-Area will abolish roaming charges among the four countries. There will also be a significant drop in cost of calls within Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya by an average of 60%. Data also shows that border trade and exchanges will boom – with citizens able to use their regular SIM cards for calls while traveling in the corridor. Initially, customers were forced to buy several SIMs to use in different states. Currently, the cost of regional roaming is higher than the cost of calling international destinations like Europe. The article first appeared on IT News Africa -www.itnewsafrica.com.