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ECOWAS set to implement harmonised roaming tariff for mobile networks

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ECOWAS is working towards the implementation of a regulation to define a harmonised legal and tariff framework for roaming on public mobile communication networks among member states by June 2019.

Mr Zouli Bonkoungou, ECOWAS Commissioner, Telecommunications and Information Technologies (TIT) said this during an interactive session with members of the ECOWAS Parliament at its ongoing ordinary session in Abuja on Wednesday.

ECOWAS Ministers in charge of Telecommunications and ICT had approved the free regional roaming regulation for the region in Oct. 2017.

The Regulation on Roaming on Public Mobile Communications Networks in the Region is expected to solve the problem of high cost of roaming services through the elimination or reduction of call tariffs, SMS charges and data costs, among others.

The regulation also aims to determine the rights and obligations of community roaming providers, regulators and member states and also provides for a minimum of guarantees for consumers.

Bonkoungou said that the harmonised tariff regime for roaming was expected to take off in June 2018, but the action plan was not implemented by member states.

The commissioner explained that the telecommunications regulators in member states were responsible for the implementation of the regulations.

“The regulators are the ones that police the implementation of the regulations and we contacted and brought those regulators in March and we also brought representatives of ministries.

“If we do not have both sides working together, we cannot rule out that policy and that was what we implemented here.

“These are technical issues but we wanted the regulation to enter into force from May 28 which is the ECOWAS Day.

“We are very optimistic but as things stand we have received from 12 countries those tariffs.

“We have uploaded them and we have asked the countries to upload and implement. So we gave that period from May 28 to June 30 for the implementation.”

In a Brief Report to the Parliament on TIT Major Activities from the period of January to April 2019 presented by the commissioner, it said that a Follow-up Evaluation Meeting with experts was held in March.

The report said that the meeting was held to identify the impediments to the immediate implementation in each member state and adopt a revised action plan for implementation in 2019.

The outcomes of the meeting were tariffs to be received from member states by April 30, commission to publish the tariffs by May 2 and official inauguration of free roaming on May 28.

Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Nigeria and Senegal were also elected as members of a new facilitation group to assist member states with the technical implementation of the regulation.

The group would also help the commission in coordination efforts.

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