The Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) has proposed guidelines that would help reduce the cost of International Roaming in the continent.
Speaking at the ongoing Communications Regulators Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) conference in Durban, SCF Associates Ltd Director Simon Forge said there was need for closer collaboration among Southern African states if they are to provide affordable roaming services for their citizens.
by David Zvina
Affordable roaming services enables significant regional economic activity by assisting to unlock new opportunities through ease in connecting the travelers to people and their business,” said Forge.
Lowering of International Roaming costs through out the region will in turn reduce the cost of doing business across the SADC border allowing for free and reduced barriers regional trading. This initiative that will not only be attractive to local investors but also to the foreign investors that had been holding back in the past.
Forge a chartered engineer and a member of the journal of digital policy, regulation and governance stressed that better financial integration between the members of the SADC region allows for continuous flow of information and knowledge sharing resulting in increased innovation that will stir economic growth in the region.
Regardless of the critical role that roaming plays in regional integration, it has to be assessed that in the absence of proper regulations, the prices of IMR inclines to be significantly in excess of the actual underlying costs of supplying the roaming services. it is these inflated prices that lead to market inefficiencies as ell as negative consumer experience a trend that has been looped in this African region.
In the case of data roaming it was assessed that customers in the southern Africa region were paying as high as 100 times the prices of their domestic data changes.
Not only is this a shocking and true statistic , it also goes on to highlight two main facts that up to now have been ignored by the region , firstly resistance to pull down changes by mobile operators is a case that has to be solved secondly there is significant premium being arbitrarily applied to roaming prices. This is one of the reasons why most individuals prefer to acquire a local sim card from the state there visiting lamented Mr Forge
In 2015, mobile operators converged in Namibia agreed to reduce roaming tariffs as part of a pilot roaming project, which will commence among all operators in the four countries.
Mobile operators in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe recently agreed to reduce roaming tariffs as part of a pilot roaming project, which will commence among all operators in the four countries by September 1
The conference being held in Durban also seeks to review and held regulators understand costing principles, approaches and data requirements for cost services. the SADC committee hopes that this move will provide guidance to the region in its migration to a cost based and competing IMR regime.