If a proposal spearheaded by Kenya for regional telecom carriers to reduce roaming prices succeeds, mobile phone consumers in Kenya and other African countries will soon benefit from lower cross-border call rates.
First reported by Business Daily, mobile phone customers will pay lower costs to call a different network in a neighboring nation, according to ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, as part of an attempt to improve integration and modernisation that aims to eliminate roaming charges.
Roaming refers to a mobile phone being used outside the range of its native network and connecting to another available cell network.
As a result, if the strategy is implemented successfully, people who are roaming will not be charged for receiving calls. Most Kenyans, like their African counterparts, prefer purchasing a local prepaid SIM card to stay connected when traveling overseas because it is significantly less expensive than paying international roaming fees.
“We want a situation where data charges are the same through Africa continental free trade area creating a market of 1.4 billion people to compete globally,” Mr Mucheru said.
Kenya, according to CS Mucheru, is part of a continental campaign under Smart Africa led by the African Union to eliminate international roaming costs in voice and data communications.
Mr Mucheru, on the other hand, could not specify a timeframe for a prospective continental agreement to eliminate roaming charges.
Africa will be joining other blocs such as the European Union, whose parliament endorsed lower price limitations on wholesale roaming fees paid by telecoms providers to peers in another EU country in March this year, extending a program that benefits consumers for a decade.