Liberia, Ghana Telecom Regulators in Discussions on Free Roaming

Source: Daily OBSERVER

Liberia and Ghana telecommunications regulatory bodies have initiated discussions towards an agreement on free roaming.

According to a release from the Liberia Telecommunications Authority, this is the first move towards implementing a process that will charge local rates for mobile phone users in both countries while subscribers are visiting.

In 2017, ECOWAS adopted a regulation to control the international wholesale and retail roaming markets, urging nations to work out lower termination rates to reduce charges and stimulate travel, trade, and tourism in the region.  

Ideally, all 15 ECOWAS nations would reduce roaming charges to the same price as their domestic country. 

Currently, most subscribers calling between Liberia and Ghana use internet-based applications such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Signal, and Telegram. Such calls require a smartphone and a data package. However, visitors from Liberia to Ghana and vice versa currently must purchase a local sim-card in the destination country. Through the local sim, they can activate voice credits on that local number or activate data for internet calls using the number from their country of origin. 

If agreed between the two countries, the roaming arrangement would require commercial solutions from carriers, allowing the cost-effective implementation of agreements in line with the ECOWAS regulation.

The Liberia Telecommunications Authority issued an Order in 2020 urging the country’s mobile network operators to implement the ECOWAS regulation. However, activation has been very slow. Service Providers cite, among several issues, a lack of momentum in commencing bilateral engagements. They said they would also like the LTA to remove the surcharge on ECOWAS international incoming traffic and curb roaming fraud, prevalent in some West African countries.

The LTA Acting Board of Commissioners is in Ghana, fine-tuning the preliminary agreement that will see Liberia establish her first roaming relationship to enhance the telecommunications landscape.  

Acting International Gateway Systems Commissioner Angela Cassell Bush, who is also presiding over the leadership of the LTA, in the absence of her colleague, Abdullah Kamara, recognizes the importance of this very first step. 

“This is great news, the discussions underway from Accra, Ghana, with members of the Acting Board of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority,” says Bush. “We look forward to more engagements; and more discussions with other member countries of ECOWAS in view of partnering with Liberia for this roaming at zero cost. So we are very excited and we look forward to more engagement.”

The Commissioners are expected back in the country on Wednesday.

THE AUTHOR: Staff Reporter

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