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MBABANE  – Citizens in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) may soon enjoy reduced calling charges, courtesy of a decision taken yesterday by ministers in charge of infrastructure.

In their 10th meeting that took place in Lusaka, Zambia, 3 - 4 October 2017, Head of Corporate Communications Mwangi Gakunga said the ministers and government representatives from 15 of the 19 COMESA countries resolved to initiate action towards abolishing roaming charges levied on mobile calls.

The move is intended to bring down the price of information communication and technology services that remain high in Africa compared to other regions of the world.

In their final report, the ministers observed: “Although the pricing of voice services in many African countries was becoming competitive and comparable with the rest of the world, the cost of broadband continued to be out of reach of most people.”
They noted that Africans paid on average 25 per cent of monthly gross national income (GNI) per capita mobile cellular calls compared to 11 per cent in other developing nations.

In COMESA region, studies have shown that Malawians use more than US$12 (£7.70) a month on mobile phones.
“This is more than half of what an ordinary Malawian earns in a month which is very expensive,” the ministers noted. Hence there was a general concern on high mobile termination and roaming charges. They noted that although mobile phones had provided new sources of originating international traffic, it was also more expensive to terminate traffic on mobile networks.

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