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EAC to examine framework on roaming call charges

East African Communication (EAC) has decided to reassess the implementation of roaming charges within the One Network Area (ONA) framework in the communications sector.

This decision was reached during a two-day summit of Heads of Communications Regulatory Authorities in Kigali, Rwanda.

Dr Aminah Zawedde, the permanent secretary at Uganda’s Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, who is also the chair of the ICT Infrastructure Development Cluster under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP), said the summit agreed to engage operators on how to deal with emerging issues.

She emphasized that the operators’ feedback will not alter the original stance of the framework, which remains unchanged: that the recipient of calls during roaming should not incur charges.

“As we look at whatever challenges that could have cooked up for the last nine years, we still want to maintain that the receiver will not be charged for receiving roaming calls within the region, but how we ensure that this happens comfortably amongst the operators in the region that is the gist and focus of this discussion,” she said.

Irene Kagwa-Sewankambo, the executive director of Uganda Communications Commission, said, “In terms of what has been achieved, the roaming calling rates have almost 90 percent reduced; the traffic and trade in the region have also increased because now people are more comfortable to roam. Once you have communication, life becomes easier.”

“If you go to a country and you realize that by switching on your phone you are going to be charged highly, you are likely to switch it off,” she added.

“But if you are part of Ona, that means that you are less worried about receiving and making calls and therefore an additional revenue that will come from the fact that you will accept to use communication in that period,” she further said.

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