One Area Network has increased mobile traffic 900 times, regional ICT ministers say

There has been a big increase in telecommunications traffic in the regional attributed to the One Network Area agreement, East African ICT ministers have said.

In a joint communique following a joint ministerial meeting on the ICT Infrastructure development under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIPs) in Nairobi Kenya, the ministers hailed the achievements so far.

“The ministers acknowledged the achievements so far made, including the operationalisation of One Network Area (ONA) for voice, data and sms, that has led to over 900 times traffic increase among the partner states, as well as cross border national backbone connections,” the ministers said in a communique read by Uganda’s ICT Minister, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi.

Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan entered into the One Network Area agreement under the Northern Corridor Infrastructure Integration Framework which reduced the charges for making or receiving calls between others countries in East Africa.

Previously, East African residents had to pay very high cross-border calling rates due to numerous duties imposed by individual governments.

The regional ministers’ meeting hailed the progress made by the One Area Network.

The East African ministers also reviewed and exchanged views on the status of implementation of the 14th summit directives that was held in Nairobi in June 2018 and noted the progress so far made by all the partner states.

“The ministers agreed to fast track the modalities of establishing a regional owned satellite for communication that will provide high-quality, dependable broadband internet services and broadcasting capabilities,” Dr.Byaromunsi said.

He noted that on cooperation in cyber security and emerging technologies, the ministers  directed the technical team to expedite the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cyber security, in order to address the emerging cyber threats and emerging through collaborative efforts.

“The ministers agreed to fast track the establishment of an East African Single Digital Market that will optimize technological efficiency within partner states by promoting and supporting start-ups, enabling joint access to capital financing, co-financing research, and others. The ministers were cognisant that this (EAC block of about 174 Million People) will create a bargaining platform with international tech companies such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft,” the Ugandan ICT minister said .

The regional ministers also welcomed the progress on the implementation of the e-services across the region, including data sharing framework, full integration of mobile financial services and ensuring mutual access to secure and reliable information.

According to the joint communique, the ministers called for policy interventions that can promote affordability of smart devices but also called for harmonized approach to policies that facilitate data storage and management.

The ministers agreed that the next joint ministerial meeting of the ICT infrastructure development cluster will be hosted by the Republic of South Sudan at a date to be communicated.

Apart from Dr.Chris Baryomunsi, the meeting was also attended by Eliud Owalo, the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communications and Digital Economy for  Kenya who was also the host, Michael Makuei Lueth, Minister for ICT and Postal Services in South Sudan and Gordon Kalema, Director General, Digital Transformation from the Ministry of ICT and Innovation from  Rwanda.

Also during the same occasion, the ICT Permanent Secretaries’ regional meeting on infrastructure development under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects was held in Nairobi.

The ICT cluster is composed of Uganda as chair, Rwanda, South Sudan and Kenya.

The meeting being chaired by Uganda’s Dr. Aminah Zawedde who is the technical chair of the ICT infrastructure development cluster heard the  progress on the implementation of regional infrastructure projects including cross border payment systems, harmonization of roaming rates, launch of digital market across the region and innovative digital platforms to enhance trade across the partners’ states.

Uganda’s delegation is being led Vincent Waiswa Bagiire, Uganda’s Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Foreign Affairs but also includes Amb. Richard Kabonero, the National Coordinator of the Northern Projects and Amb. Evans P. Aryabaha, the acting head of the Uganda High Commission, Nairobi and other senior government officials.

 

 

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