Nairobi — Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan have mutually agreed to adopt a regional telecommunications framework for a "One-Network-Area" by 31 December 2014.
The agreement was signed by responsible Ministers from each member state on the sidelines of the 6th Northern corridor Integration Summit.
The One-Network-Area is being implemented as a result of resolutions made during the 5th Heads of State Summit for the Northern Corridor Integration Projects held in Nairobi, Kenya in May 2014.
The regional framework for the One-Network-Area applies to telephone calls originating and terminating within the region and mandates members to adopt the following: Exemption of regional calls from surcharges applied by member states on international incoming calls. No additional charges to subscribers on account of roaming within the region. And no charges for receiving calls while roaming within the region.
The Minister of Youth and ICT of Rwanda, Hon. Jean Philbert Nsengimana called on regional telecom operators and government to work together towards the reality of seamless roaming in the Northern Corridor.
Subscribers travelling within the member states will be charged as local subscribers in the visited country network. The subscriber will therefore only incur prevailing calling rates of the visited network similar to w hat local subscribers pay.
Hon. John Nasasira, the Uganda's Minister of Information and Communication Technology stressed the key role played by telecom operators across the region in realizing this project. "It is important that our regional telecom operators work together to make this communication milestone a reality".
Operators within the region shall be required to re-negotiate their bilateral agreements to ensure the full implementation of the One-Network Area by 1st September 2014 for Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda and 31st December 2014 for South Sudan.
Dr. Fred Matiang'i, the Cabinet Secretary, Kenya's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology called on the Telecom Industry to come together and establish a permanent platform that will be leveraged for proactively engaging with Ministries of ICT on matters pertaining to the growth of the Telecom Industry.
The launch of the one area network will abolish roaming charges among the four countries. In addition it will reduce the cost of calls among Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya by an average of 60%. This will increase cross border trade and exchanges, with the citizens able to use their regular SIM cards to place and receive calls while traveling Northern corridor countries.
The meeting has been attended by Hon. John Nasasira, Minister of Information and Communications Technology in Uganda, Hon. Jean Philibert Nsengimana, Minister of Youth and ICT, Hon. Dr. Fred Matiang'I, Cabinet Secretary in Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in Kenya, Mr. Juma Stephan Lugga, and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Telecommunication and Postal Services in South Sudan as well as senior officials from the respective countries.