PUBLISHED ON February 23rd, 2015

Kenya’s president decries high regional roaming costs at EAC Summit

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday decried the high roaming costs levied on phone users while communicating with colleagues in other East Africa Community (EAC) states.

Speaking at the 16th Heads of State Summit at Kenyatta International Conference Centre yesterday afternoon, Uhuru termed the high costs as an ‘unnecessary impediement to trade and communication’.

Apart from Uhuru, the Summit was attended by Jakaya Kiwete (Tanzania), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi) while Salva Kiir of South Sudan attended as a guest of EAC.

“We have acknowledged that the high cost of roaming calls across the region is an unnecessary impediment to trade and communication in our Community. It is unacceptable that in many instances, calling outside our continent is much cheaper than communicating within our region,” said President Uhuru.

He added that in the spirit of East African integration, innovative interventions leading to substantial reduction of calling charges are overdue, and lauded Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for implementing the ‘One-Area Network’ which has led to uniform rates within the three countries.

“Already, calls within this Network have reduced to about US 12 cents per minute, while there are no charges for incoming calls. This tremendous benefit will be shared within the entire East African Community when the region adopts harmonized calling rates in July this year,” stated Uhuru.

The One Network Area, an initiative of the EAC Member States, aims to have subscribers pay a uniform tariff for mobile calls within the region.

As a first step, three EAC member states – Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda – on October 8, 2014 embarked on a pilot which has seen mobile calls from and to within three countries charged at a uniform rate of Kshs 8.7 (US $ 0.10). The two other EAC members – Tanzania and Burundi – were expected to adopt the new call charges from December 31, 2014 but are yet to comply.

Already, Kenya’s mobile network operators – Airtel Kenya, Safaricom and Orange Kenya – have reviewed their roaming tariffs in line with the ‘One Network Area’.

Source: CIO East Africa

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