The Association of Licenced Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria says elimination of call roaming charges in the ECOWAS sub region will drive more traffic for Nigerian telco operators.
The President of the association, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, while speaking with our correspondent, said the plan would reduce the practice of not using Nigerian network lines when people travelled to other African countries.
According to him, the move will translate to increased revenue for mobile network operators from cross-regional traffic.
He said, “The thing with the roaming is that it limits people from using their phones when they are overseas. And even though we are within the same sub-regional territory what people end up doing is to get SIM cards within the country of their travel even if they are there for a day or two.
“It means if they are on a host network and you go to a guest network, you are not likely to use the service because of the high cost of roaming; if that is eliminated, you are able to carry more traffic. And so in essence, it should be subjected to standard statistics. It will be to the benefit of operators across the sub-region because you will remove that barrier of people not using their phones outside the country because of the roaming charges.”
Adebayo said a significant progress had been made in reviewing call roaming charges at the national level, having received input from stakeholders in the sector.
Nigeria and other African countries are set to enjoy cheaper call rates and text messages tariff following a decision by regional integration groups to abolish roaming charges.
Starting from 2018, ECOWAS countries would abolish mobile phone roaming fees, as part of the decision made at a meeting of ministers in charge of Information and Communications Technology from the region in the Cape Verdean capital, Praia.
At the 15th meeting of ECOWAS, the ministers approved the revised draft supplementary act on universal access and services, along with several other documents designed to boost the development of the ICT and regional integration.
Other regional groups in Africa such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Southern African Development Community and the East African Community were also working on mechanisms that would see up to 40 African countries harmonise roaming charges across the board.