Calling family and loved-ones across regional and international boundaries can be expensive, especially in the holiday season. For this reason, Rwandan mobile phone users would like to see the practice of roaming rates abolished.
Roaming fees were adjusted last year during a review of fees on roaming services by sector regulator Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency’s (Rura).
Anyone calling an operator in Rwanda will have to pay 22 US cents, a service that once cost 9 US cents.
“The increase in taxes meant rates for people calling from other countries went up – by that additional amount,” explained Yvonne Manzi Makolo, the chief marketing officer at MTN Rwanda.
Makolo explained that Uganda, Burundi and Tanzanian telecom regulators made it extremely expensive for users to phone contacts, as they imposed the same taxes.
“It used to cost Rwf60 to call Uganda and Burundi, now it is around Rwf120 to call Uganda and Rwf350 to Burundi because they increased their rates to 35 US cents. Before we were absorbing the 9 US cents, but is now impossible to absorb the 22 US cents and 35 US cents increments imposed in the countries,” she explained.
As with all things commercial, the cost is eventually passed onto the end-users. “So we have to charge our customers to receive calls because other customers from the East African Community (EAC) region coming to Rwanda are charged by their operators.”