Free roaming now official in central Africa
International roaming charges on mobile telecommunications will no longer apply in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).
This after regulators from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Chad and Gabon committed to bilateral agreements to lift charges and cut interconnection tariffs.
The sub-region’s circa 30 million mobile phone subscribers are expected to benefit from this development.
Besides putting an end to roaming charges, Cameroon’s Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Minette Libom Li Likeng said the initiative will “harmonise the tariff schedules for voice, short messages and mobile data services, as well as support continent-wide integration.”
The project, driven in part by the Association of Telecommunications Regulators of Central Africa (ARTAC), has been in development for nine years and is linked with the objective of CEMAC to establish a One Telephone Network zone within the community.
Lacina Kone, Director General of Smart Africa, which backs the ‘One Africa Network’ initiative, said his organisation will be on hand to support the implementation and policy harmonisation around the initiative.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) sub-regional office for Central Africa said CEMAC member countries have everything to gain with eliminating surcharges on mobile roaming.
Back in July 2021, Giuseppe Renzo D'Aronco, Economic Affairs Officer at ECA’s sub-regional Office for Central Africa said the decisive step taken is a key tool of borderless communication and a vector of regional integration. “It is likely to significantly improve the daily life of citizens on the move in the CEMAC area and, consequently, provide an opportunity to strengthen the free movement of people, goods and capital,” he said.
D’Aronco suggested the deal be extended to the ECCAS countries which are not in the CEMAC zone.