By Antony Langat:
Nairobi — CABINET Secretary for Information and Communications Technology, Dr Fred Matiang'i, has called on players in the telecommunications industry in the region to establish a permanent platform that would benefit subscribers.
This follows the launch of the One-Network-Area programme to abolish roaming charges among four countries in the region.
Subsequently, there will also be a significant drop in cost of calls within Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya by an average of 60 percent.
Meanwhile, the Northern Corridor countries have agreed on a regional telecommunications framework to establish a "One-Network-Area" by December 31.
When fully operational, charges on phone calls within the region could drop by 60 percent.
The One-Network-Area is being implemented following a directive of the fifth Heads of State Summit held in Kenya in May.
At another summit in Rwanda last week, the leaders expressed satisfaction with progress.
Regional line-ministries were directed to ensure that "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."
Data also shows that border trade and exchanges will boom - with citizens able to use their regular SIM cards for calls while traveling in the corridor. Initially, customers were forced to buy several SIMs to use in different states.
Currently, the cost of regional roaming is higher than the cost of calling international destinations like Europe.
The Northern Corridor comprises Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.
Subscribers traveling within the corridor will be charged as local subscribers in the visited country network.
Subscribers will only incur prevailing calling rates of the visited network similar to what local subscribers pay.
Operators within the region shall be required to re-negotiate their bilateral agreements to ensure the full implementation of the One-Network Area by September 1.