Four of the six East Africa member states Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda And South Sudan have agreed on a regional telecommunications framework dubbed as “One-Network-Area” by 31st December 2014. According to several reports, we have been able to gather indicate that , charges on phones calls within the region could drop by up to 60 percent when fully operational. 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.
So how will the One-Network-Area work?
All telecom companies are required to scarp roaming fees for their subscribers traveling within these countries. And all calls will be charged as local calls in the visited country network. The subscriber will only incur prevailing calling rates of the visited network similar to what local subscribers pay. Currently, the cost of regional roaming is higher than the cost of calling international destinations like Europe.
As part of the summit resolutions, line-ministries of the different countries were directed to make sure the following: Exemption of regional calls from surcharges applied by member states on international incoming calls. No other charges to subscribers on account of roaming within the region. And no charges for receiving calls while roaming within.
Nasasira, Uganda’s Minister of ICT said: “It is important that our regional telecom operators work together to make this communication milestone a reality.”
MTN takes Charge in Uganda
According to a meeting held by Uganda telecom operators and the regulator UCC, the carriers entrusted MTN to investigate the implications of this project. MTN is currently working with Ernest and Young to make sure that they iron out all loop holes to this roaming fee removal project.
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. The exercise is expected to boom border trade plus enable subscribers use one SIM card while traveling within these countries. We hope the one network will imply to both voice and data.