Tanzania and Burundi have been blamed for dragging their feet on One Area Network, a unified telephone roaming system aimed to lower telecommunication tariffs in the region.
This has made telephone calls from and to the two countries from the within the bloc to be prohibitively expensive compared to four other partner states.
“This is surely a burden to phone users and has added to the cost of doing business,” lamented the chairperson of the East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers Kirunda Kivejinja.
He told the just-ended session of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) that he had not been told as to why the two members of the bloc were delaying the process.
Four other EAC countries; Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Sudan have been implementing the EAC Roaming Framework for a couple of years now.
Dr. Kivejinja, who is the second deputy prime minister of Uganda, urged Tanzania and Burundi to join the system before the end of this year as directed by the regional leaders.
He was responding to a query raised by a Ugandan MP Paul Musamali why the two countries were dragging their feet on the matter which was jointly decided by all the partner states.
Delays in joining EAC One Area Network affecting businesses
Failure by the two countries, Tanzania in particular, to join ‘One Area Network’ has often led to criticisms from the business community in the region.
The East African Business Community (EABC), an apex body of private sector institutions in the region, says higher telecommunication tariffs due to failure by the two states to join the telephone roaming system among other factors, was a drawback in business.
The chairman of the body Nicholas Nesbitt told journalists in Nairobi recently that One Area Network was one of the digital platforms needed to transform the region to another level of development.
Without mentioning Tanzania and Burundi, the Kenyan business ‘guru’ regretted that the roaming costs were high in East Africa for failure by all countries to embrace One Area Network.
According to Mr. Nesbitt, who is the general manager of the Kenya-based telecommunication giant, IBM East Africa, EABC would soon dispatch a high-powered delegation to meet the region leaders on bottleneck that continue to impact trade.