Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang’i, has urged telecom companies to lower cross-border call and data rates, saying that the current high charges are hampering the East Africa integration and business opportunities.
Kenya has one of the highest roaming charges, something that forces many people travelling outside the country to either switch off their phones or acquire temporary local SIM cards.
“It is a critical area that needs market-based solutions and not policy or regulatory intervention. If we impose a fee, it may affect the market by making it unpredictable for investors,” said Matiang’i while speaking at a forum on mobile roaming charges.
The ICT secretary however admitted that lowering of the roaming charges is not an easy task, saying that the rates are affected by external factors including tariffs and regulations in different countries. It is for this reason that telecom companies from different countries were encouraged to adopt a uniform policy and regulatory framework to allow for lower rates.
The Kenyan government will also be looking on how to offer incentives to ensure that mobile roaming charges are lowered, subject to African Telecommunications Union’s review of the proposal presented before them.
“The guidelines will help national regulators and operators determine the most appropriate way to apply the guidelines in their own markets,” said AUC secretary general Abdoulkarim Soumaila.
In the meantime, the government is in the process of investigating the excessive cross-border call rates before they take action.