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EAC to Review Framework on Roaming Call Charges: East Africa

East Africa’s communications sector regulators have resolved to review the implementation of the One Network Area (Ona) framework on roaming charges.

The development was reached at during a two-day Heads of Communications Regulatory Authorities summit held in Kigali, Rwanda, between September 14 and 15.

Dr Aminah Zawedde, the permanent secretary at Uganda’s Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, who is also the chair of the ICT Infrastructure Development Cluster under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP), said the summit agreed to engage operators on how to deal with emerging issues.

Read: Tanzania joins One Network Area for lower cross-border call tariffsHowever, she said the operators’ feedback will not affect the framework objectives whose original position stands that the receiver of calls during the roaming process should not be charged.“As we look at whatever challenges that could have cooked up for the last nine years, we still want to maintain that the receiver will not be charged for receiving roaming calls within the region, but how we ensure that this happens comfortably amongst the operators in the region that is the gist and focus of this discussion,” she said.

All EAC member countries are implementing the framework with some reporting challenges, according to Dr Zawedde. EAC countries made a joint commitment in 2014 to create an Ona to harmonise roaming calling rates.

Read: One Network Area: Roaming charges are backIrene Kagwa-Sewankambo, the executive director of Uganda Communications Commission, said, “In terms of what has really been achieved, the roaming calling rates have almost 90 percent reduced; the traffic and trade in the region have also increased because now people are more comfortable to roam. Once you have communication, life becomes easier.”“If you go to a country and you realise that by switching on your phone you are going to be charged highly, you are likely to switch it off,” she added.“But if you are part of Ona, that means that you are less worried about receiving and making calls and therefore an additional revenue that will come from the fact that you will accept to use communication in that period,” she further said.

Source : Zawya