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Connected East Africa: Kenya leads, the region follows

Published on April 16, 2015

Earlier this month, the great and the good of the Nairobi ICT sector made their annual pilgrimage to the Kenyan coast to discuss the events of the last year and put in place plans for the next.

Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete’s recently delivered State of the East African Community (EAC) Address drew attention to the community’s efforts to remove non-tariff trade barriers and spur integration, as well as the progress on linking member nations through transportation.

Yet in terms of ICT, integration has taken its time to catch on. As recently as late-2013, leading Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom was blasting taxes imposed on calls from Kenya by EAC member states, which meant it had to increase its roaming charges. The company called the levies a “trade barrier”.

Fast forward to July last year, and integration is very much on the agenda. A Nairobi meeting saw Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan agree to adopt a regional telecommunications framework by the end of the year. That framework is now in place – the “One-Network-Area”. Essentially what the framework allows for is the exemption of regional calls from roaming charges applied by member states on international incoming calls and text messages. The policy was adopted at around the same time as a similar one in the European Union (EU), but East Africa now plans to go one better.

The biggest story of the conference was that the One-Network-Area concept will be expanded within the next year to data and mobile money. Kenyan Ministry of ICT cabinet secretary Fred Matiangi said he and his colleagues from other EAC countries were putting together a proposal for central banks and national treasuries. Read more. Source | How we made it in Africa