Just days after a null discussion over scrap of roaming rates between Safaricom and the Rwandan government, rival telecommunications company Airtel has rolled out new cross-border charges with upto 60% drop from the initial rate of kshs25 per minute.
Airtel Kenya will offer affordable voice rates where outgoing calls while roaming in Rwanda will now be charged at Ksh10 per minute down from Ksh25 per minute. The new rates apply to customers making calls from Kenya to Rwanda and customers making calls from Rwanda to Kenya. This represents a 60% reduction of the charges for call rates for roamers in Rwanda on Airtel network.
Airtel Kenya prepaid customers roaming in Rwanda will enjoy a one of its kind unique benefit and convenience of being be able to top-up their prepaid SIM cards with locally purchased scratch cards, which can be purchased at any Airtel Rwanda points of sale and top up by simply dialling “138*Voucher-PIN” and press the OK button. For prepaid customers, the roaming service is automatically activated when crossing into Airtel Rwanda network, with no prior registration required or sign-up fee charged. The new offers on Airtel’s One Network will enable customers to be treated as local customers when they travel.
While making the announcement, Airtel Kenya CEO Adil El Youssefi emphasized on the company’s intention to continue increasing connectivity and making communication more affordable for subscribers encouraging greater adoption and usage of mobile services and enabling important socio-economic benefits for consumer travelling or doing business in Rwanda and beyond.
The move makes Airtel the first telcom to have a slash on roaming charges therefore providing seamless communication and convenience anywhere between the two countries in a project by the company; ‘Airtel Unique Africa footprint’.
In a region where trade and cross-border economic cooperation is on the rise, regional mobility is a critical factor for the East African region and beyond. The changes in the tariffs have been made possible as result of an agreement by the heads of state of three East African countries which include Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to reduce cross-border calling rates by 60 percent, as part of efforts to enhance regional integration.
The new guidelines are expected to improve communication and stimulate growth in the telecommunications sector, which has in the recent past become an important contributor to member countries’ gross domestic product.