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RWanda telecomsThe prohibitive roaming call rates have caused discomfort among the business community and ordinary Rwandans who want to communicate with friends and relatives across the region. The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency’s (Rura) and other telecom regulators in the EAC reviewed roaming call rates, meaning that when one calls someone in Uganda, for example, they are charged and the other person’s is also ‘cut’. BEN GASORE and peterson tumwebaze examine the issue

After suffering for months in silence under the burden of prohibitive roaming call rates subscribers, especially business people, and local telecoms operators are now calling for the scrapping of fees on regional calls.

Yvonne Manzi Makolo, chief marketing officer (CMO) at MTN Rwanda, said: “The increase in taxes meant rates for people calling from other countries went up by that additional amount.”

She added the situation was made worse by regulators in Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania imposing the same tax again.

“When I call my suppliers, they charge me and also deduct airtime fees. This is making it hard for us to do business,” said businessman Laments Mugabo.

Calls to Uganda and Burundi previously cost RWF60, which was hiked to RWF120 to call Uganda and RWF350 for Burundi, with Kenya the only country that has not imposed high taxes to the EAC.

Enos Bukuku, EAC deputy secretary general for planning infrastructure, however said the secretariat will come up with a model that will make roaming call rates seamless by calling on the operators and governments to discuss the issue.