East Africa’s One Network Area project starts to take shape: MTN and Airtel Lead the way



In August last year, it was officially announced that four of the six East Africa member states which include Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan signed multilateral agreements to have one telecommunications framework dubbed as One Network Area. This week we start to see the fruits of these agreements, as MTN Uganda and Airtel Rwanda have led the way in implementing the project.

MTN’s One Network offer will enable their subscribers roam in Kenya, Rwanda or South Sudan and make calls at UGX 360 per minute and receive calls for free. They will also be able to make calls to those countries at significantly reduced rates of UGX 330 per minute. Where as Airtel Rwanda has reduced call rates to Uganda by 78%, so this means Airtel customers will now call Uganda for as low as Rwf59 per minute.

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We are however not 100% there, as the agreements signed call on all telecom companies within the region 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. The project is expected to boom border trade plus enable subscribers use one SIM card while traveling within these countries.