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Daily Nation : January 26th 2014
40 | Business INTEGRATION | Communication authorities from regional bloc meet to deliberate on costly charges Big buzz over bid to reduce roaming costs But mobile service firms decry move saying they will suffer losses if the calling fees are harmonised BY LILIAN OCHIENG @LilianMerab firstname.lastname@example.org by EAC governments to harmonise roaming charges in a bid to ease regional integration. Authorities from Kenya, B Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan met early this month in Uganda to agree on ways of doing away with or reducing the unpopular and costly charges but are yet to settle on harmonised roaming rates. This follows a closed-door meeting in Nairobi where they discussed harmonisation of cross-border connectivity and broadband pricing. As the talks gain momentum, The East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture believes harmonisation of roaming charges will free communication among traders and enhance cross-border business. “Further substantial progress towards an East Africa single market for telecoms is essential for strategic interests and economic progress,” said Mr Charles Kahuthu, chief executive and Regional coordinator of the Chamber. Traders who import goods in the region have complained that the high roaming charges hinder their business. usiness travellers in East Africa are upbeat about the ongoing negotiations “I ferry fish from Kenya to Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan, but sometimes I miss out on my customers because of high calling costs and poor transition of network,” said Ms Monica Nyabwa. Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania place an internationa levy on international inbound calls. To call Kenya on an Airtel line would cost Sh21.95 from Uganda, Sh32.01 from Tanzania, and Sh24.69 in Rwanda per minute. Incoming calls are also charged at Sh45.73 per minute after a hundred minutes. According to Lemma Senbet, executive director of African Economic Research Consortium and also an analyst of economic trends, the measures might interfere with revenue made by mobile firms from roaming. They would also reduce consumer charges and existing rigorous policy requirements for mobile companies. “This will further complicate issues as s in Kenya are currently struggling with poor services, which might stifle their revenue as they face even stiffer penalties from the Communications Commission of Kenya,” said Mr Senbet. The commisison’s Quality of Service report 2012/2013 states that Safaricom, YuMobile, Telkom Kenya and Airtel have failed to achieve the 80 per cent setfor quality. Mr Senbet further said that the higher the wholesale price agreed between two s from neighbouring Sh32.01 Amount of airtime money it costs a minute to call Kenya from Tanzania on Airtel BY MWANIKI WAHOME @mwanikiwahome email@example.com AND RAMENYA GIBENDI @ramenyag firstname.lastname@example.org The Cabinet has approved pro- posed amendments to a new law on agriculture in an attempt to difuse tension between national and country governments on management and regulation. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority Act will be amended to accommodate the devolution of agricultural functions to counties. According to Agriculture Secretary Felix Koskei, the Cabinet approved FILE | NATION From left: Telkom Kenya Chief Executive Mickael Ghossein, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, Airtel Kenya Managing Director Shivan Bhargava and Yu Mobile Country Manager Madhur Taneja (partly hidden) during a press briefing of the four licensed mobile network s. countries, the more the customers on both networks will pay. s therefore have an interest in keeping those prices higher than the market price. But commission is reluctant to comment on that with the view that the changes would result in a win-win situation for consumers and s. According to director Francis Wangusi, the expected reform of roaming charges is one of the most ambitious plans in the region. “This means cheaper calling rates to consumers and higher traffic within the region,” said Mr Wangusi. “Kenyan s currently send out more call traffic to the region; the reductions will be a plus to them.” “Reduction of roaming charges means our mobile s pay out less for mobile traffic terminated in other East African countries,” said Mr Wangusi. He added that this would further reduce the cost of doing business within the region. But Safaricom, Kenya’s lead- ing mobile company , dismissed the analysis. “Roaming charges are a fac- tor of many input costs involving home and visited networks, and traffic carriers,” said corporate affairs director Nzioka Waita. According to Airtel managing director Shivan Bhargava, high levies on international inbound calls in Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania compel us to increase charges “We welcome the talks as they will ease business and enable affordable calling rates,” he said. Telkom Kenya managing director Mickael Ghossein nonetheless claims that his firm would suffer losses if the prices are harmonised. Mobile firms in Kenya are currently struggling with poor service provision, which might stifle their revenue as they face penalties from CCK” Lemma Senbet, Exec Director Africa Econ Research Consortium Cabinet approves changes to agriculture laws the re-tabling of 10 amendments that Parliament did not pass last year. “The amendments are listed on the order paper to be discussed in February when Parliament resumes. These will be among the first issues to be handled,” said Mr Koskei in a telephone interview. The provisions of the Act signed by President Mwai Kibaki two months before he left office have not been received well by some. Policy decisions The governors have also raised issue with the concentration of activities in the envisaged Authority, arguing that this was not in sync with devolution, which has ceded implementation of policy decisions to the counties while leaving the national government with FILE | NATION Agriculture secretary Felix Koskei said Parliament will discuss agriclutural amendments next month. the role of policy formulation. “With the Act in place, provision of farm inputs as well as agricultural extension services will be executed by both tiers of government, resulting in duplication of roles,” said the chairman of the Agricultural Committee of the Council of Governors Nderitu Gachagua earlier. Efficiency The changes came about as a result of the consolidation of 131 pieces of laws into five in an attempt to create efficiency and business-oriented agriculture. The Authority was expected to bring all the regulatory bodies under a director-general appointed by the Agriculture secretary. However there are those who argue that the director-general will take on a huge part of the role of the Cabinet secretary. Through a gazette notice on Janu- ary 17, the cabinet secretary spared the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and the Pest Control Products Board from abolition. The two bodies were to be removed as the government tried to put all the parastatals and research institutes in agriculture under one body. Agriculture stakeholders had argued that if the plant inspectorate was abolished, the country would lose access to lucrative markets such as the European Union as it may issue precautionary bans on produce, should Kenya fail to clarify how her exports would comply with existing export treaties. SUNDAY NATION January 26, 2014 PwC keen to help the counties set systems BY CHARLES WOKABI email@example.com Audit firm Pricewaterhouse- Coopers (PwC) Kenya Ltd is eyeing more opportunities as the county governments establish administrative systems. Speaking at the launch of the company’s new offices in Westlands, Nairobi, PwC Africa Senior Partner Suresh Kana said the firm is keen on increasing its partnership with the government as the country embarks on an economic transformation drive. “We have a very big focus on working with the government in Kenya and right across Africa. In Kenya particularly, we are looking for opportunities in the counties and the national government where we can improve governance by establishing proper systems and sweeping out duplication and wastage of resources,” Mr Kana said. The launch was presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta who called on more local and international private sector players to enter private public partnerships with the government in order to invigorate growth. “We encourage more multination- als to increase their investments in this country, which is headed for a major economic take off,” Mr Kenyatta said. National Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said the firm worked closely with the government in the implementation of the new VAT Act and called for more partnerships. “Like us, East Africa’s business leaders are very confident of growth going forward. Our annual Africa CEO Survey shows that an average of 89 per cent of CEOs in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are confident of revenue growth this year while 94 per cent are confident of the next three years. We have every reason to suspect that our growth strategy is in line with trends we’re seeing in the region and across the continent,’ PwC Kenya senior partner Anne Eriksson said.
October 13th 2013
January 27th 2014