Loose talk by a Ministry of Information and Communications official gives some indication of the hopes being placed in the recent interconnection study commissioned by the regulator CCK. And the conduit for this loose talk? The unlikely figure of Canadian inventor Kuba Farbiarz who passed it on to a seminar held last week in Nairobi. Farbiarz who had earlier met ministry officials on April 19, said the planned move could reduce the cost of cross-network calls to as little as Ksh.3 (about US$ 4 cents) per minute.

There was no comment from ministry of information officials, but an official from the regulator Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) who asked for anonymity, told Business Week on phone that such plans were indeed in the pipeline.

"The take is that we wish to see communication become affordable to an average Kenyan (mobile) phone user and yes, we are looking at those figures (Ksh.3) but it is premature to state definite plans at the moment," said the official.

The time frame for the implementation of the plans however is not known. But the CCK official said government wanted to "see the move effected as soon as possible."

Currently the lowest cross-network rate is Ksh.24 ($0.31) per minute charged by the Celtel network.

East African Business Week