Celtel subscribers may soon be able to call Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and other Comesa countries at a single rate if the respective countries okay a plan for a direct link between the countries. Mamadou Kolade, the Celtel International B.V external affairs director told a press briefing at Celtel House.

He said that Celtel had a presence in seven Comesa (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) countries and already has a direct link between Congo Kinshasa and Congo Brazzaville, which has resulted into a decrease in the prices, and a dramatic increase in calls. He, however, said that linking countries will only be possible once each of the countries undertakes liberalisation of their communication industries.

"To link some countries, you need an international request as at times international calls have to be monitored. If countries liberalised, then it would be easier for the international operator to link up," he said.

He said that the International Finance Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank, would back Celtel. Kolade, however, declined to disclose when the plan would take off or even how it would work on the ground.

Kolade, who was attending the just ended Comesa Summit in Kampala said: "Many governments want interconnectivity at least among Comesa countries, and this has been a request from them. Some ministers and Comesa leaders have said that they will help us achieve this."

Comesa already has a plan to set up a trans-Comesa communication consortium called Comtel that will set up a regional communication highway estimated to cost USD300 million. If this ambitious plan materialises, it will be perhaps one of the biggest of the kind in Africa.

The Monitor

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