Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda cut costs of cross-border calls
09 October 2014, 09:11
Nairobi - Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have slashed the costs of making mobile phone calls across their borders by more than 60 percent, as part of efforts to enhance regional integration, the Kenyan communication minister said on Wednesday.
The three nations, with a combined population of more than 94 million and members of the five-nation East African Community (EAC), are seeking to improve trade between their economies where businesses often complain of high roaming charges.
Kenya's Safaricom, one of the biggest mobile operators in the region, did not expect the move to have a major impact on its revenues as roaming was not a key part of its business, Chief Executive Bob Collymore said.
Mobile phone users will pay reduced tariffs for calling another user on a different network in a neighbouring country while those roaming will not be charged for receiving calls.
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"We have reduced the cost of calling within the region by over 60 percent," Information, Communication and Technology Minister Fred Matiangi told a news conference.
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are part of the five-nation EAC common market, which also includes Burundi and Tanzania.
The three countries have also launched a joint tourist visa, allowing visitors to cross to see attractions in any of the three, and they are building a new transport corridor, linking the Kenyan coast with the hinterland, via railway and oil pipeline. Both Uganda and Kenya have discovered oil.
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South Sudan, a nation convulsed by a civil conflict which has already signed up to the transport projects, is expected to cut costs of mobile phone calls across borders by the end of this year when it joins the new initiative, Matiangi said.
Tanzania and Burundi were also looking at how they can join the initiative, the minister and telecoms executives said.
Other operators in the region include Bharti Airtel , MTN, Orange and Tigo.
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