Whether you use a prepaid or a post-paid line, your phone is automatically set by default to enable you to make phone calls whenever you travel out of the country. However, roaming charges usually apply, depending on your location at the time and in many cases, the charges always cost an arm and a leg. In a matter of time, this will come to a halt as a decision has been unanimously made by regional integration groups to totally abolish roaming charges.
At the just-concluded 15th meeting of ECOWAS, one of the agenda was to approve the revised draft supplementary act on universal access and services, as well as other factors that could enhance the growth of the ICT and regional integration. The aim of this is to provide a platform for Nigerians and other countries in West Africa to enjoy cheaper call rates and tariff generally, even when they are outside their countries.
This decision is set to be implemented in 2018 and by way of reasoning, ‘will drive more traffic for Nigerian telco operators’. It is very common to see that many people who travel out of the country and cannot make calls to their family and friends because of the exorbitant roaming rates. According to the President of the Association of Licenced Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, this new decision will reduce the practice of people not using their lines to make calls and send texts. For him, it’s quite unfair for people to undergo the stress of getting a new SIM card to enable them to communicate with people when they may have to spend less than two days in another country within West Africa. He said further:
‘It means if they are on a host network and you go to a guest network, you are not likely to use the service because of the high cost of roaming; if that is eliminated, you are able to carry more traffic. And so, in essence, it should be subjected to standard statistics. It will be to the benefit of operators across the sub-region because you will remove that barrier of people not using their phones outside the country because of roaming charges.’
This is a welcome idea. Not only will it increase revenue for the telecommunication firms across the regions; it will pave way for more regional integration which is a crucial aspect of economic growth.