Malawi Government has said home and away roaming is important; hence, regulators should address the high roaming charges within the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc).
Deputy Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Information Harold Perekeni said this last week in Lilongwe during the Communications Regulators Association of Southern Africa (Crasa) annual general meeting (AGM) and a workshop on home and away roaming in the Sadc region.
He said that roaming accords Sadc citizens the opportunity to remain connected in areas that are not covered by their home carriers.
“This aspect has led to travellers resorting to buying local SIM cards for use, otherwise known as plastic roaming,” said Perekani.
He, however, said the region is reeling from the challenge of exorbitant roaming charges which make it impossible for many travellers to utilise the facility and do business in an efficient and effective manner.
Perekani urged Crasa to take responsibility in fulfilling the need to ensure improvements in pricing, transparency and product availability of the roaming services.
“We are relatively doing well except for the charges that are on the high side. Sadc should also develop a strategy that allows for regulator intervention,” he said.
Perekani added that Sadc leaders have high expectations from Crasa on the harmonisation of the ICT industry in the region.
“This is the reason members are committed to the association to enable it to act as a watch dog through collection of necessary information from other regions on modern trends in the communication sector,” he said.
Chairperson of Crasa Pedro Mendes de Carvalho said the people from Sadc region have been denied the right to communicate in an affordable manner whenever they cross Sadc borders.
“The Sadc citizens have been denied the right to choose roaming providers and they have been denied the pre-knowledge of how much it will cost them to roam, therefore, getting surprises upon opening their bills,” he said.
Carvallo called upon all the stakeholders of Regional Alliance Task Team (Ratt) to work together with Crasa and accelerate the achievement of cost-based roaming prices in the region.
Sadc ministers in 2008 established a working committee called Ratt with the aim of investigating mechanisms of reducing the regional roaming tariffs in the Sadc to submit a report to the ministers for final decision.—Mana