Rwanda:Roaming charges rise as RURA issues new guidelines

The cost of making and receiving calls while abroad is set to increase after telecom regulator, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), slapped a fee on roaming services offered by local telecom operators.<!–more–)

The regulator introduced a fee whereby any person calling an operator in Rwanda is charged $22 cents (Rwf132.2) per minute, a move that has not been taken down easily by mobile phone users.

The new regulations, which took effect July 1, are going to affect costs for all incoming international calls, mobile phone users while in Rwanda and also Rwandans outside the country.

According to the directive issued by RURA, the regulator had legitimate concerns about matters of service quality, key operational statistics for telecommunications, fair competition, transit and roaming traffic practices, telecommunications and network traffic fraud in relation to international incoming electronic communication traffic in the country.

These new directives make RURA the only telecom regulator in the region to have implemented such guidelines.

Business Times has leant that local telecom operators are not ready to bear the additional cost and have started charging roaming fees.

Khaled Mikkawi, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Rwanda, the country’s leading telecom operator by market share, said, the new the operator has decided to reinstate all roaming charges.

Recently MTN Rwanda issued a statement saying all calls made by MTN Rwanda customers while roaming both regionally and internationally will be affected.

Customers (visitors) roaming on the MTN Rwanda network might be charged for receiving calls, MTN said.

“All telecom operators in Rwanda have been requested to explain to clients and subscribers that they had to abide by the RURA regulations on termination rate, hence the changes in tariffs,” MTN said in a statement.

Last year, MTN Rwanda decided to scrap cross-border roaming charges for its customers when they use the service in Uganda, South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland and Zambia. The receiving fee was Rwf60 per minute before it was scrapped.

The operator had introduced the fee saying it wanted to trim the swelling bill for call termination charges which it pays to international operators with which they have roaming partnerships.

Diego Camberos, the Chief Executive Officer, TIGO Rwanda, said RURA’s decision is affecting calls coming from outside Rwanda.

“We may see a change in roaming charges, but it’s too early to tell the impact.”

According to RURA, the new rules will provide the regulator with adequate regulatory tools that will enable it fulfil its statutory mandate and roles as the country’s national ICT regulator.

“It will also enable the regulator to ensure the generation of reliable statistics for all incoming international calls through systems and services for measuring the incoming international traffic” RURA said in a statement.