AFRICAN TELECOM GATEWAY LICENCE COSTS TO COME DOWN AFTER UNCTAD INTERVENTION

Telecoms

The cost of acquiring international gateway licenses by private mobile service providers in Africa is likely to come down following the intervention by UNCTAD, according to senior government officials.

Ministry of Communication and Transport Permanent Secretary Peter Daka said this week that the Zambian government has started reviewing international gateway license fees, currently priced up to hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars.

UNCTAD has also instructed Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Gabon, and Niger to immediately begin reviewing international gateway license fees, saying that the current fees prohibit the development of African information and communication technologies.

"We have already started negotiating with the private sector [mobile service providers] to find a reasonable pricing for the international gateway license fee," said Daka.

The international gateway license allows individual service providers to have their own signalling access codes. But many African countries have highly priced their international gateway license as a way of restricting service providers from acquiring the license, critics say.

Currently, the cost of acquiring an international gateway license stands at $214,000 in Kenya and at $50,000 in Uganda. The move by African countries to reduce international gateway license fees follows persistent calls by mobile phone service providers on African governments to liberalize their international gateways as the only way to decrease the cost of communication.

Daily Trust