Africa is Working to Abolish Roaming Charges, CS Mucheru

Mobile users in Africa could benefit from cheaper cross-border call rates if Kenya succeeds in its push to have telecoms across the African continent reduce call rates.

Kenya’s cabinet secretary for ICT Joe Mucheru said this move is part of an initiative to boost integration and modernization and eventually scrap roaming charges. If the plan is successful, subscribers using the roaming option will not be charged to receive calls.

Currently, it’s much easier for mobile users in Africa to buy a local prepaid SIM card to stay connected when travelling around the continent.

“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.

The CS didn’t give any timelines for the possible abolishment of roaming charges across the continent but elaborated that the initiative is running under the Smart Africa banner. Smart Africa is an alliance that brings together 37 heads of state and government with an aim of expanding the use of ICT in building a knowledge economy.

Analysts and lobby groups have supported the scrapping of roaming charges, saying that it would shield consumers against inconsistent prices when calling within the continent.

“This would be good and welcome news. Connecting the continent into a one telecommunications hub,” said Consumer Federation of Kenya secretary-general Stephen Mutoro said.

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