Safaricom subscribers are set to enjoy significantly discounted roaming rates for roaming calls made in Uganda following the adoption of the One Network Area initiative by the country.
Through agreements secured with MTN Uganda, UTL Uganda, Airtel Uganda and Orange Uganda, Safaricom subscribers will receive calls for free while roaming in Uganda as well as enjoy a flat rate of Sh10 for calls between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Burundi, Tanzania, Southern Sudan are expected to follow in the near term. Previously, rates for such calls in Uganda were as high as Sh215 a minute.
‘This is a significant step towards greater East Africa integration. A reduction of this kind will boost trade opportunities between these two key East African nations. We remain committed to identifying more opportunities to lower roaming rates for more countries in the region,” said Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom.
Specifically, the agreements cover calling from Kenya to Uganda, calling Kenya while roaming in Uganda, calling host networks while roaming in Uganda, calling Rwanda when roaming in Uganda, and receiving calls while roaming in Uganda.
In May 2014, a Meeting of ICT Ministers and Heads of State from the Northern Corridor countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and South Sudan resolved to establish a “One Network Area” to be implemented by 1st September 2014.
So far, operators from Kenya and Rwanda have implemented the proposed framework, with new rates implemented on 1st October 2014.
Safaricom implemented the framework with all networks in Rwanda (MTN, Airtel and Tigo), resulting in a reduction of retail roaming and international calling rates by 60%.
In the months post implementation, Safaricom has noted significant growth in traffic between the two countries, with calls originated by Safaricom subscribers while roaming in Rwanda increasing by 85%, while calls received by Safaricom subscribers roaming in Rwanda increased by 101%.
Last week, Safaricom announced significant reductions in roaming rates for its subscribers in 21 countries, following the creation of a new bundle for countries located in North and Central Africa, Europe and New Zealand.