A while back, East African Community head of states signed an agreement dubbed “One Network”. The agreement stipulated that starting 2015, Telcos in member countries would take significant measures aimed at reducing roaming charges. Safaricom lowered its costs for it’s subscribers in Rwanda by 60% which took roaming charges to Kshs 10 down from Kshs 25 for calls back to Kenya. Calls to Rwandan networks went down to Kshs 10 from Kshs 17.50 per minute. Airtel followed by slashing roaming charges for customers to Kshs 9 per minute down from Kshs 23 in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
According to the latest report by the Communications Authority of Kenya, the One Network initiative has paid off with roaming-out voice traffic posted 35.8 million minutes, 30 million of which were to East African Community (EAC) countries in the three months between Jan-March 2016. The total number of roaming out messages stood at 8.6 million with the EAC countries registering 5.8 million messages. Total roaming out data stood at 2.3 million MB during the quarter under review with EAC countries contributing the greatest volume of 1.2 million MB.
Roaming- in (Foreign Subscribers) voice traffic registered a total of 27.3 million minutes during the period under review with EAC countries posting 23.3 million minutes and other countries recording 4.0 million minutes. Similarly, the total number of roaming out messages was registered at 4.3 million with the EAC countries contributing 1.4 million messages. Roaming in data traffic stood at 8.7 million MB.
In the One Network Area arrangement, both out-roamers and in-roamers are not charged for receiving calls while roaming across the four member countries of the Northern Corridor including Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi. Uganda, which is Kenya’s largest trading partner led in terms of the roaming traffic across board followed by Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.