Telcos in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) are set to be exposed to rising competition in a plan that seeks to reduce costs of cross-border digital services.
Comesa is seeking to harmonise roaming network with other regional blocs in at least 29 African countries by next year.
“It supports the review and development of regional policy and regulatory frameworks in a harmonised manner, thus contributing to enhanced competition and improved access to cost-effective and secure ICT services,” Comesa said of the plan.
Experts have pointed out that the major hurdles hampering improved access to cost-effective ICT services are uneven and fragmented implementation of policy and regulatory frameworks across the continent to promote competitive markets among member states.
The Comesa plan will be attained through the Enhancement of Governance and Enabling Environment in the Information Communication and Technology (EGEE-ICT) sector programme. The project is funded by the European Union to the tune of 8 million euros and spearheaded by Comesa.
The plan targets policy harmonisation and regulation with the aim of to enhancing cross-border interconnections, strengthening pan-regional competition and competitive tariffs, and expedite deployment of safe and reliable ICT services.
Roaming enables a mobile user to automatically make and receive voice calls, send and receive data, or access other services when travelling outside the geographical coverage area of their home network, by means of using a visited network. Telecom operators enter into agreements to connect one another’s customers across a single or multiple geographies, with subscribers typically paying more when outside of their home markets.