MTN Rwanda, the country’s leading cellco in terms of subscribers, has slashed voice call charges for its customers roaming on all networks in Kenya. Rwanda News reports that MTN’s pre- and post-paid subscribers will now be charged RWF68 (USD0.10) per minute when roaming in the neighbouring country, down from the previous charge of RWF178. Meanwhile, voice calls to Kenya will be priced at RWF60 per minute (down from RWF122), while receiving calls in the country will be free for MTN subscribers (previously RWF51). Teta Mpyisi, corporate communications and public relations manager at MTN Rwanda, was cited as saying: ‘This is in line with the East Africa Community [EAC] One Network Area agreement’.
The new development comes a week after Kenya’s leading cellco Safaricom suspended the introduction of reduced roaming charges to Rwanda, blaming the move on a Rwandan government directive which installed new levies on international calling and roaming tariffs between the two countries. CEO Bob Collymore disclosed that the new tax ‘makes it impossible’ for operators in Kenya and Rwanda to go ahead with the planned downward revision of roaming tariffs under the ‘One Network Area’ programme. ‘We will therefore revert to the previous tariffs even as we push on with efforts to ensure that we have affordable calling rates for the region’, the executive said.
As previously noted by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, telecom operators in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda committed to cap the minimum roaming charges in the three countries from 1 October 2014; South Sudan is set to join the initiative later this year, with other countries in the region also expected to follow suit. The five EAC member states – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – have seen cross-border roaming charges increase dramatically over the last few years, prompting cellcos to demand that the roaming fees should be scrapped.