TELECOM RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

- The Communications Authority of Zambia has licensed 800 kms of fibre from ZESCO, the Zambian power utility. There is also a link being planned to connect Livingstone and Kitwe and discussions are under way about creating fibre links to neighbouring DRC and Namibia. It is also setting up a Universal Access Fund with USD2 million and legislation on a new regulatory framework is going to Cabinet shortly.

- The Nigerian power utility NEPA is about to try and get back into the data carriage business after its unsuccessful partnership with Eskom.

- Nedjma, the mobile arm of Algerian multimedia operator Wataniya Telecom Algerie (WTA), announced the launch of its roaming service for prepaid subscribers to 'Carte Nedjma' as of 25th April 2005. 'Carte Nedjma' offers subscribers per second billing, while it also operates a flat tariff policy for all national calls (towards either fixed or mobile numbers) from 7.5 DZD per minute. There are six types of recharge cards available for Nedjma's prepaid service: 250 DZD, 500 DZD, 1000 DZD, while for every recharge of card value equal to 1500 DZD, 2000 DZD or 3000 DZD subscribers receive bonus credit of 300 DZD, 1000 DZD and 3000 DZD respectively.

- Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom has launched a new roaming service. The service will allow subscribers to make calls to Uganda and Tanzania at the cost of a local call - Sh28.50 per minute. Safaricom has signed an agreement with Uganda Telecom Limited and Vodacom Tanzania for the service. During the launch, Safaricom's chief executive, Mr Michael Joseph, said alongside the roaming service, customers would enjoy other benefits including airtime transfer services. In three months, the company will introduce multi-media messaging that will enable subscribers to send picture messages to mobile phones and computers. Kenya will be the third African country after South Africa and Egypt to have the service.

The company will install 40 new sites and upgrade about 80 in Nairobi to improve its service around Nairobi. Mr Joseph said that Safaricom customers having problems with making calls in the city centre would soon be a thing of the past. The company, he said, would install about 260 new sites outside the city over the next year. "Our growth is expected to result from areas which we are not currently present because experience has shown that we get positive response anytime we move to a new area". He called on the government to grant his company a license to operate international gateway links to enable it offer cheap services to its international callers.