Tech n' Biz

Benin and Ghana Agree to Implement Free Roaming for Citizens

Move Aimed at Reducing Communication Costs for Travelers Between the Two Countries.

Benin and Ghana have agreed to implement free roaming to reduce communication costs for citizens traveling between the two countries. This development follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Benin’s Electronic Communications and Postal Regulatory Authority (ARCEP) and Ghana’s National Communications Authority.

The ARCEP states that the two West African countries have decided to put the memorandum into effect on July 1, 2024, which will significantly lower roaming costs for customers in Ghana and Benin. This development aligns with the ECOWAS regulations on roaming within the Community’s public mobile communication networks, introduced in Praia, Cape Verde, in October 2017.

The implementation of free roaming had been delayed due to several challenges, including the absence of direct links between telecom operators, high call termination rates, and fraud. In a May 2023 interview with BusinessDay, the Executive Secretary of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA), Aliyu Yusuf Aboki, said 13 ECOWAS member states have modified their telecom legislation to exempt roaming surcharges.

Harmonizing tariff regulations, Aboki continued, tends to facilitate trade against the backdrop of the many cross-border trade challenges, particularly those related to connectivity and data access.

“I believe it would boost trade and economic activities, and in terms of the digital economy, it would open a lot of doors for more businesses to thrive, especially SMEs. When traders arrive in any country in West Africa, they can continue using their phones to do business- check prices, communicate with staff, suppliers, partners, etc.- without bothering about higher costs,” he further said.

Previously, Ghana and Benin had collaborated with other West African nations to facilitate communication. In June 2023, Ghana held a bilateral discussion with Côte d’Ivoire to implement the free-roaming initiative, making the two countries the first ECOWAS countries to do so to promote greater integration among member states and reduce roaming charges within the subregion.

Also, Benin and Togo signed a MoU in October 2023 to enable free international mobile network roaming between the two countries.