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Botswana's mobile operators agree to cut rates

Botswana's mobile operators agree to cut rates.

Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has announced that the country's mobile companies will slash roaming tariffs in October by an average of between 23% and 33%.

Aaron Nyelesi, BOCRA's deputy communications director said the development is in line with SADC Council of ICT Ministers' observation that roaming charges were extremely high in the region.

BOCRA said the reduction in roaming fees for voice, short messages services (SMS) and data will support SADC's Home and Away Roaming (SHAR) roadmap - a multi phase project, calling for reduction of roaming charges.

SHAR's objective is to reduce charges for these services within SADC over a period of five years and adjust to cost-based tariffs.

Nyelesi said Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) from Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia have agreed on a quadripartite resolution to slash rates. While Botswana has confirmed its readiness to meet the September deadline, as stipulated by SADC, resolution partners have agreed to commit to October.

"Some mobile operators may be slow in completing the exercise as it is resource intensive. However, all have been urged to prioritise resources for this important and presumably most successfully coordinated ICT programme in the region," Nyelesi said.

He said mobile operators in Botswana have responded positively and are on course to meet deadlines, adding that they can only be delayed by counterparts, since roaming is a bilateral network exercise.

Reduction of roaming rates project kicked off in 2013/2014 when mobile operators were challenged to enforce and implement transparency in roaming services through providing roaming information on websites, sending SMS prompts to roaming users – prices for calls, SMS and data.

Botswana's mobile operators Mascom, BeMobile and Orange charge varying rates, depending on the region, while other networks are yet to sign bilateral agreements with various mobile operators in other countries.

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