COMESA tackles regional roaming tariffs


Mobile roaming

from PHYLLIS BIRORI in Kigali, Rwanda
Rwanda Bureau
KIGALI, (CAJ News) –STAKEHOLDERS and experts in the telecommunications sector are discussing the issue of the high mobile roaming tariffs in the Common Market of Southern and East Africa (COMESA).

The three-day validation workshop that began on Monday in Kigali, Rwanda, is convened under the aegis of the review of the Draft Policy and Regulatory Frameworks regarding Roaming and Interconnections.

Officially opening the workshop, Bernard Dzawanda, COMESA Director of Infrastructure, lamented the adverse conditions that stifle the growth of the sector in the regions.

“Most of us would agree that the high and uncompetitive tariffs for international mobile roaming and a weak regulatory regime for cross-border interconnections are two of the most persisting challenges in the regional ICT market,” Dzawanda said.

Gordon Kalema, Director General/Digital Transformation at the Rwanda Ministry of ICT Innovation, noted high communication costs had an impact on economies.

“Having affordable communication across the region would have a positive effect on several other areas such as increased cross-border trade, free movements of people, reduced cost of doing business and ultimately enhanced regional integration.”

Despite a 2017 pledge by ministers from COMESA to abolish roaming tariffs, they are still in place.

However, through the Enhancement of Governance and Enabling Environment in the Information Communication and Technology (EGEE-ICT) sector programme financed by the European Union, COMESA is looking at policy harmonisation and regulation in order to facilitate cross-border interconnections, strengthen regional competition and ensure competitive tariffs.

In 2023, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe announced they would be scraping off roaming fees among them.

Headquartered in Zambia, COMESA comprises 21 member states, with a total population exceeding 600 million.

– CAJ News

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