East Africa to Cut Cost On Internet and Mobile Money Transfer – CS

East Africa residents will soon enjoy low cost money and data transfer under the ‘One Area Network’ which is part of the East Africa telecommunication integration.

Kenya’s Information Communication Technology cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i, yesterday said EAC states are working towards harmonisation of systems that will bring the cost down.

This comes after Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda successfully reduced roaming charges. Tanzania and Burundi are expected to be part of the new roaming network by end of June this year, according to Matiang’i.

The move is expected to reduce the cost of internet and mobile money transfers in the region, aimed at boosting trade and development.

Speaking during the Connected East Africa Summit in Kwale, Matiang’i said the Central Banks and National Treasuries of the respective member states are consulting on how to speed up the process.

“We are in negotiations with our colleagues and we are looking at how to bring down the cost of data and money transfer. We are looking at how we can harmonise ICT policies in the region,” said Matiang’i.

He said the Kenya plans to lay an additional 1,600 kilometers of fiber optic cable to increase connectivity.

The CS said the government is also putting resources together to support innovation in the country at an estimated Sh1 billion.

Mobile money transfer experienced stagnation with the number of subscriptions remaining at 26 million by December 2014, according to Matiang’i and the new plan is expected to boost the platform.

The number of mobile money transfer agents however grew from 103,660 in March 2013 to 121,924 in December 2014 registering 14.97 per cent growth.

Mobile phone subscription grew by 4.58 per cent from 31.21 million to 33.6 million last year, with penetration ration rising from 78.02 per cent to 82.6 per cent.

Internet subscription in the country stands at 26.1 million making the penetration ration to stand at 62 per cent of the total population.

Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda ICT ministers all called for speedy integration of the region’s ICT for faster growth.

South Sudan telecommunication minister Rebecca Okwaci, noted that the country’s ICT penetration is low, and they are looking at Kenya among other EAC countries for inspiration.

Uganda ICT minister John Nasasira, Rwanda’s Jean Nsengimana and South Sudan’s culture, youths and sports minister Nadia Dudi attended the two day summit which has brought together government departments and private sector from the region, under the theme “Strength is in our network”.

Nasasira noted that ICT is key in regional infrastructure and economic development.