Roaming charges to be scraped

Portia Mlilo
EXCITED: Nyelesi

In their effort to have one digital market, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Malawi have agreed to scrap mobile roaming charges, effective August this year.

Communications Ministers from the four governments recently met to discuss this new developments and there is a team tasked to plan proper roll out and consultation with the network providers.

Botswana Communication Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) Director Broadcasting and Corporate Communications, Aaron Nyelesi, said the idea started with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area ideal.

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He said as part of implementation of that ideal Smart Africa initiative held a meeting this April at Victoria Falls that the four nation’s ministers had a side meeting and agreed to implement a single digital market for Africa.

“This is part of Smart Africa initiative and their desire is to start this at least within the four countries. Then they tasked their regulatory authorities and in Botswana it is us BOCRA. The regulatory authorities had a meeting at Malawi three weeks ago and they will tell their ministers what needs to be done on which timelines. Regional roaming has already been attempted through a structure called Communications Regulators Association of Southern Africa. It was tasked by the ministers of Communications Information Technology for SADC countries to try and reduce or eliminate roaming,” said Nyelesi.

He went on to say an attempt was made and first it was agreed to implement transparency so that information can be available to all SADC members roaming within the region. He said that is why currently when one visits southern countries, they receive messages on the charges of roaming which was not done before.

Nyelesi said the idea of reducing was achieved in some countries bilaterally as network providers partnered with others across borders. He said these four countries indicated their willingness to try and reduce tariffs. He said other SADC members said they won’t be able to progress with that because their enabling legislations of regulations do not allow them to force the network providers to do that and it stalled.

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