COMESA agrees deal to abolish phone roaming charges

Monday 9 October 2017 | 10:36 CET | News

Members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) have agreed to abolish telephone roaming charges in the bloc, reports Business Daily. The bloc said in a final report that although pricing of voice services in many African countries was becoming competitive and comparable with the rest of the world, the cost of broadband continued to be out of reach of most people. It said that users in Africa paid on average 25 percent of monthly gross national income (GNI) per capita on mobile calls compared with 11 percent in other developing nations. 

As part of the deal, the ministers agreed to draft regulations to support investment in Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) as a way of enhancing competition. In Africa, MVNO permits have been issued in Morocco, Kenya and South Africa. 

Comesa countries represent over 37 percent of internet users in Africa and the continent represents 7 percent of Internet users across the world, but the bloc only constitutes 2.5 percent of the world’s population of internet users. The East Africa Community (EAC) has already implemented the concept of uniform telephone charges. Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have already implemented harmonised voice and SMS charges under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects.  

The EU in February also cleared a final hurdle to cap the wholesale charges mobile service operators pay each other to enable their customers to use their phones in other European countries, paving the way for the abolition of roaming fees in June.

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