Telcos in Rwanda are demanding that the country’s telecoms watchdog the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) and other telecom regulators in the East African Community (EAC) should scrap the roaming fees following a recent review of call rates, Human IPO reports. According to the article, in 2012 RURA hiked the charges for receiving a call to RWF144.3 (USD0.2) from the previous charge of RWF59, while regulators in Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania introduced similar taxes. Calls to Uganda and Burundi previously cost RWF60, which was hiked to RWF120 and RWF350, respectively. MTN Rwanda CMO Yvonne Manzi Makolo said: ‘The increase in taxes meant rates for people calling from other countries went up by that additional amount.’ Enos Bukuku, EAC deputy secretary general for planning and infrastructure, pledged that the secretariat will come up with a model that will make roaming rates affordable, and called on operators and governments to discuss the issue.
In separate news, Jean Baptise Mutabazi, head of communication and media regulation at RURA, has revealed that the migration to digital broadcasting in the country, initially set for end-2013, may be delayed following slow take-up of set-top boxes (STBs). Human IPO reports that the previous deadline for the analogue switch-off ‘may now be unrealistic’, adding that the agency will only monitor the implementation process and leave the importation and distribution of the digital image converters to the private sector and Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA). Cedric Pierre-Louis, the managing director of Rwanda’s Tele10 TV, said: ‘The problem is that people are not aware of the migration process and are reluctant to purchase STBs.’ The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) set 2015 as the global deadline for switching from analogue to digital broadcasting, but Mauritius is the only African country to complete the switchover so far.