Phone accessories in Balogun market in Lagos, March 5, 2020. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja A pilot-free roaming scheme in Ondo State allowing customers of each company to switch to the network of the other where its own has no coverage has run smoothly, says Sinfield in Lagos. The pilot is the first of its kind. The facility has been provided at no extra charge and the companies will seek permission from the regulator for a full roaming agreement, he adds.
Free national and international roaming provision has been gaining ground in Africa. In 2014, East African Community countries agreed to create a single network area for five national economies, with mobile roaming charges eliminated. The move led to an immediate surge in traffic: according to the World Bank , inbound roaming calls to Kenya from Rwanda increased by over 950% when the change was introduced.
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Six members of the Communauté Economique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale agreed last year to end roaming charges by the start of this year. And since January 2020, people travelling in the Economic Community of West African States have been able to roam without paying charges. With a roaming agreement, there is no need for additional infrastructure to cover a gap in the network. So cash can be saved can and used elsewhere.
The Nigerian Communications Commission has said that roaming agreements can help increase capital expenditure efficiency. It hopes the saved cash can be used to provide more infrastructure in unserved parts of the country.
The industry “should be doing more to collaborate” to increase access, says Sinfield. “Collaboration is the way forward for a market of this size.”
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MTN is Nigeria’s largest mobile company and 9Mobile, formerly known as Etisalat, is the fourth-largest, with 13m subscribers.That’s more than the entire market in Belgium, which had 11.5 million subscribers in 2019. Sinfield is confident the company can raise its subscriber total this year.To stop the biggest companies from dominating, Sinfield is in favour of price floors being removed in combination with strict rules on the dominance of […]