The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) citizens travelling within the sub-region will from January 2020 not bound to pay for roaming charges following the implementation of the ECOWAS Roaming Initiative.
The initiative is aimed at creating an enabling environment for the international mobile roaming market to ensure affordable access to roaming services for voice, SMS and data.
The Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful, announced this on Monday, October 14, at a meet-the-press series in Accra.
Explaining the initiative further, she said the initiative would reduce roaming rates within the ECOWAS sub-region, promote cross border investments and encourage competition among operators to reduce call charges.
“From January 1, 2020, all ECOWAS citizens travelling within the region will experience no roaming tariffs but will roam at local rates,” she said.
Mrs Ekuful said all 15 ECOWAS-member countries were committed to completing all the legal and administrative processes required to facilitate the roaming initiative by December 31, 2019.
“The 6 cent surcharge on all incoming international calls must be removed for all ECOWAS traffic and we are in consultation with the Ministry of Finance for this to be done during the 2020 budget hearings,” she said.
She noted that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Ghana are therefore required to conclude roaming agreements with operators in the ECOWAS region by December 31, 2019.
According to the Communications Minister, the implementation of the ECOWAS roaming initiative will enhance regional integration and economic development and facilitate Ghana’s hosting of the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
She noted that experiences from other regions that have implemented free roaming in their jurisdictions demonstrate exponential growth in traffic volumes with corresponding revenue increase.
“This has meant more revenue for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and increased tax revenue for the government. The current dispensation records minimal volumes of traffic-Voice, SMS and Data – and this brings in minimum tax revenue to the government. Implementation of the ECOWAS Roaming Initiative will enhance our revenue generation in the ECOWAS corridor similar to that experienced in other free-roaming zones and remove barriers to communication for subscribers,” she said.