Calling costs to drop as Tanzania, Burundi effect EAC roaming fees

Wednesday March 02 2016

Charges on telephone calls made to Tanzania and Burundi are set to drop significantly as the two countries prepare to adopt the region’s uniform roaming charges.

Implementation of the framework for the East African Community’s harmonised roaming charges is one of the priority items before regional presidents who are meeting in Arusha Tuesday.

Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have already implemented harmonised voice and SMS charges under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects.

Calls to Uganda and Rwanda networks currently cost flat rate of Sh10 per minute while calling Burundi and Tanzania is Sh30 and Sh25 respectively. 

Similarly, it costs a flat rate of Sh7 per SMS sent to Rwanda or Uganda compared to Sh10 and Sh12 respectively to Burundi and Tanzania.

Sector players said application of uniform roaming charges across the 146 million people market would ease communication among the region’s 146 million people, fostering economic integration.


“The implementation of harmonised EAC will reduce roaming charges for EAC citizens, increase traffic volumes for operators and ultimately foster the integration process,” says Mr Richard Tonui, director of licensing, compliance and standards at the Communications Authority of Kenya.

At the moment, cross-border voice and SMS charges remain flat between Kenya Uganda and Rwanda but high between Tanzania and Burundi due to different roaming rates.

For instance, a voice call from Safaricom line in Kenya to MTN and Tigo networks in Rwanda costs Sh10 per minute, the same rate as calls made to MTN and UTL networks in Uganda.

A similar call from Kenya to Airtel or Tigo networks in Tanzania costs Sh30 per minute or Sh25 per minute if made to Burundi’s Econet Wireless network.

Similarly, it costs Sh7 per SMS to Rwanda and Uganda compared to Sh10 to Burundi and Sh12 to Tanzania.

Calls to satellite networks, however, remain uniform at Sh500 per minute to Rwanda, Uganda or Tanzania while Burundi attracts Sh1,780 per minute.

A deal reached in Arusha Tuesday is set to give the region a one area network that will give the region flat cross-border call charges.