This week Celtel announced that it had extended its regional roaming scheme covering East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) to include DRC, Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon.

Upon crossing the border into the included countries, a subscriber will be charged the lowest tariff in that particular country. The network will automatically activate upon crossing the border of any of the six countries without prior registration. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on traffic volumes, other international rates and the sales of local SIM cards.

A Kenyan Celtel user who visits Tanzania can call a Celtel Tanzania subscriber, a mobile user on another network or a fixed line subscriber for KS20.71 a minutes. The same user can call Congo-B users for KS35.19 a minute and DRC users for just KS18 per minute.

Meanwhile Malian incumbent Sotelma has complained to the Malian regulator that France Telecom-owned, Sonatel (which also owns Mali’s Ikatel) has offered a regional roaming scheme between the two countries and it cannot do this. The boot is now well and truly on the other foot for this incumbent. It wants access to Sonatel’s network to be able to do this. Perhaps it should buy Tigo….