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G5 Sahel to introduce free roaming by 2019

G5 Sahel to introduce free roaming by 2019

Countries affiliated to the G5 Sahel regional framework (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) will end telecoms roaming charges incurred by subscribers who travel within member states.

The G5 Sahel is an institutional framework for coordination of regional cooperation in development policies and security matters in West Africa established in December 2014.

Member countries have adopted a roadmap to initiate a Free Roaming project, expected to be completed in 2019.

Tontama Charles Millogo, Director General of Burkina Faso's Regulatory Agency of Electronic Communications and Posts (ARCEP) said that the standardisation of telecom tariffs among the five countries will contribute to a greater integration of populations.

"It will also facilitate intelligence among countries and help fight terrorism effectively," Millogo added.

However, telecoms operators are against the move and argue that this would reduce their revenue.

Representing G5 Sahel, infrastructure expert Mikailou Sidibé said with free roaming, "everyone wins because you have a parallel increase in international telecom traffic that will compensate, in the very short term, the losses or apprehensions that people have at the beginning."

G5 Sahel represents the latest group of African countries collobrating to end roaming charges.

In June 2018, ITWeb Africa reported that East African countries were initiating the same and there was a similar development in West Africa involving Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Togo where free roaming was rolled out on 31 March 2017.

Member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) aim to introduce free roaming by 2019.

Central African countries continue to leverage the One Area Network project of Smart Africa Alliance.