EAC Sectoral Council on Transport, Communications and Meteorology directs United Republic of Tanzania to join EAC Roaming Framework by September 2021
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 30th June, 2021: The EAC Sectoral Council on Transport Communications and Meteorology (TCM) has directed the United Republic of Tanzania to adhere to the set date of 30th September, 2021 on the implementation of the EAC Roaming Framework.
The TCM which met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania further directed the Republic of Burundi to expedite the implementation of the EAC Roaming Framework.
The EAC Roaming Framework or One Network Area was meant to harmonise mobile and data roaming charges across the region and make affordable calls starting from and ending within the region, in addition to enhancing intra-regional trade.
The EAC Secretariat informed the TCM that was chaired by Kenya’s Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works that the EAC Roaming framework was developed and approved by the 30th Meeting of the Council of Ministers in 2014 and endorsed by the EAC Heads of State in February 2015.
The framework imposed price caps on roaming charges and called for the removal of surcharges on cross-border telecommunications traffic.
So far, the Republics of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan have implemented the framework. The 16th Sectoral Council on Transport, Communications and Meteorology (TCM) held in June 2019, reiterated its earlier directives to Burundi and Tanzania who had not implemented the EAC Roaming Framework to implement.
The United Republic of Tanzania, in its letter dated 18th December, 2020 informed the Secretariat that it had concluded its internal consultations and was ready to implement the EAC Roaming Framework. The EAC Secretariat conveyed the decision of the United Republic of Tanzania through a letter dated 20th January 2021.
Tanzania informed the TCM that it was in the process of implementation of the framework and was currently reviewing its legal framework with the effective date of implementation set for 30th September, 2021.
Burundi, on its part, told the TCM that internal consultations on the implementation of the framework were ongoing. Burundi said that it had already received data on the status of implementation from Uganda. Burundi requested other Partner States who had implemented the framework to share the data. Burundi said that she will implement the framework with all Partner States by 30th June, 2022.
On the broadcasting sector, the TCM further considered and approved the nine key areas identified under the Draft Guidelines for Harmonization of broadcasting content regulations, namely: Local content; Ownership; Cross-media ownership; Licensing of broadcasting services; Advertising regulations Disadvantaged groups; Online broadcasting; Sustainability of Free To Air (FTA) Television, and; Watershed period.
On local content, it was agreed that broadcasting stations in Partner States use content of not less than 10% percent made by local independent producers and that foreign content should not be more than 40%.
On ownership, it was agreed that the majority of shares of any broadcasting entity should be owned by locals.
The TCM requested Partner States that had not set up both a converged Ministry and a converged regulatory agency or authority to address Broadcasting and Telecommunications issues, to do so.
The Ministers directed the Republic of Burundi and the Republic of Uganda to fast track the ratification process of the EAC Protocol on ICT Networks and deposit the instruments of ratification with the office of the Secretary General.
On air transport, the TCM directed the Secretariat to request the regional airlines to submit a list of all air ticket charges for review by Partner States.
The Ministers observed that the high, taxes, charges and fees that impact on ticket cost are high in the EAC region and such taxes, charges and fees include import duty, railway development levies, passenger service charges, value added tax, landing, parking, and navigation charges.
The meeting, among other things, called for the harmonization of tax regimes in order to avoid possible uncompetitive advantages between the routes and avoidance of double taxation practices as provided by the EAC Agreement on double taxation;
In view of the damaged wrought on the airline industry and allied sectors, the Sectoral Council urged Partner States to enhance support given to airlines and other aviation service providers in view of depressed revenues resulting from the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic worldwide.
On meteorological services, the TCM directed Partner States to continue expanding their RADAR Networks in addition to developing mechanisms for sharing the information (e.g., web portals) to enable early detection and warning of severe weather to reduce the associated economic and human loses;
The Ministers directed Partner States to develop mechanisms for increasing the number of automatic rainfall stations.
They directed Partner States to support National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to continue expanding the Synoptic and Upper Air Observations networks.
Speaking during the opening session of the 17th TCM, the Chairperson Ms. Oduwole said that considerable developments had taken place in the region in the Transport Sector including the development of local and multinational roads, the rapid modernization and expansion of airports, increased route network expansion by national airlines, the on-going development of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) network along the Northern and Central corridors, the expansion of seaports, as well as the increase in mobile penetration and related mobile services, among other projects and programmes.
“These requires massive amounts of resources and that in spite of the negative impact on our economies occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Partner States have remained committed to the implementation of the agreed projects and programmes,” said the Chief Administrative Secretary, adding that infrastructure remains a key development enabler for the growth of EAC economies and the improvement of the standards of living of EAC citizens.
On his part, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Eng. Steven Mlote, underscored the importance of infrastructure in economic growth, poverty reduction and attainment of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Eng. Mlote highlighted infrastructure funding gaps in Africa which required plugging and called on EAC Partner States to adopt innovative measures for funding infrastructure development, including the establishment of infrastructure funds or bonds, as well as creating an environment in which the private sector can play a major role in infrastructure development.
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About the East African Community Secretariat:
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of six Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
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