During the 17th Ordinary East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Summit recently realized in Arusha, Tanzania, top representatives from member countries reviewed and agreed on delegating the approval of the EAC common external tariff, under the One Area Network project, to the EAC Council of Ministers with due date February, 2019.
Tanzania, which seeks to join the One Area Network to homogenize and reduce roaming charges to other members of the EAC to support trade and economic growth, would soon join after the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) finished the revision of the sector polices and regulation to put them in line with those from the EAC.
The project, launched in 2014 by Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda reduces roaming charges on voice calls by 60% to KES 10 or TZS 210 per minute while the cost of sending a short message service (SMS) remained flat at KES 7 or TZS 147.
These tariffs compared with a voice call’s cost from the One Area Network of KES 25 or TZS 525 and KES 12 or TZS 252 per SMS to Tanzania constrain growth in traffic volumes for customs’ stakeholders and integration in the region, explained Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) Director of Licensing, Compliance and Standards, Mr. Richard Tonui.
The reduction in tariffs is product of the initiative’s agreement which mandates exempt of charge for roaming incoming calls while charging the local tariffs when a user is dialing an international or local phone call from abroad and within the EAC.
This measure plus other factors as cheap smartphones and extended internet coverage from member countries will support a growth over 5.0% in the region’s communications sector according to Old Mutual Securities, a Kenyan trading company.