Tanzania joins East Africa’s One Network Area initiative
Tanzania’s government has confirmed its decision to officially join the East African bloc’s unified roaming system or One Network Area (ONA).
Up until now the country has been reluctant to join ONA and not divulged the reasons why, but since the June 2019 meeting of the East African Community (ECA) Transport, Communication and Meteorology Sector Council in Kampala, Uganda, the country has come under increasing pressure from the bloc and given until March 2021 to complete its analysis on the implementation of ONA.
The EAC Roaming Framework or ONA was initiated in 2014 by the ECA member states in a bid to bring down mobile and data roaming charges across the region.
It requires mobile phone operators to renegotiate and reduce wholesale tariffs and a waver on excise taxes and surcharges on incoming voice traffic, while establishing wholesale and retail price caps on outbound ONA traffic.
Of the six countries making up the East African regional bloc, Tanzania and Burundi are the only countries still to join ONA.
The other four countries, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Rwanda have already joined the network.
Chairperson of ECA Coordinating Committee Dr Kevit Desai said Tanzania never refused to join ONA and said it was in the process of reviewing the legal framework to complete affiliation.
He said the country has written to the EAC secretariat informing it about its desire to join the network once all processes have been completed.
He added: “I have been assured by Tanzania that they are doing everything possible to join ONA. The country did not object to joining the network. We are only urging them to fast-tract the process so as to bring down communication costs.”
In May this year, ECA Secretary General Peter Mathuki said ONA will promote easier communication among East Africans, which will strengthen the integration process adding that the bloc is also putting pressure on Burundi to join the network.