East African Countries Set To Include Data and Mobile Money under One Network Area
Launched back in January, 2015, the One Network Area is an initiative by the East African Community (EAC) member countries. Where member countries reached, an agreement that all calls emanating from member countries be billed as if they were local. The agreement was spearheaded by a Safaricom, Airtel Uganda, and MTN. Enabling their subscribers to make and receive calls for free in Uganda while paying a flat rate fee of $0.11 for calls from other EAC countries like Burundi and Tanzania.
The EAC has now reached a new agreement that will see mobile data services and mobile money be included in the One Network Area initiative. Member countries, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan will become the first countries to roll out this initiative. ICT Ministers from the respective countries unanimously agreed that bringing mobile money services under the One Network Area will boost trade and development in the region.
Compared to any other regions across the continent, the East Africa region has seen the most widespread and avid use of mobile money services. Take, for instance, the case of Kenya alone; by the end of 2014, the country had 26 million mobile money subscribers while internet subscriptions stood at 26.1 million. However, the regions just like many other African regions, it is still plagued by high data and money transfer costs across borders.
“The East Africa region is set to achieve more in ICT development than any other region in Africa. It started with cheaper voice communication, and now it is moving to data and mobile money services.” Said Edith Mwale, a telecom analyst at Africa Center for ICT Development.