In a move to create a single digital market, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia have announced that they will remove mobile roaming charges for their citizens starting in August 2023.
Currently, when a mobile phone user travels to another country in the region, they are charged roaming fees by their home network. These fees can be expensive, making it difficult and expensive for people to stay connected while traveling.
The removal of roaming charges will make it easier and cheaper for people to travel within the region. It will also boost trade and investment, as businesses will be able to operate more easily across borders.
The decision to remove roaming charges is part of a broader effort by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to create a single digital market. The SADC is a regional bloc of 16 countries in Southern Africa.
The removal of roaming charges is a major step forward for the SADC’s digital market agenda. It will make it easier and cheaper for people to stay connected, boost trade and investment, and promote economic growth in the region.
While the removal of roaming charges is a positive step, there are still challenges to connecting Africa’s unconnected population.
The 2019 World Bank/UN Broadband Commission report estimates that nearly 1.1 billion new users need to be connected to achieve universal, affordable, and good-quality broadband internet access by 2030. This will require an estimated additional $100 billion in funding over the next decade.
In addition, innovative and alternative solutions are needed to connect the nearly 100 million people living in remote areas outside of the range of traditional mobile networks.
Despite these challenges, the removal of roaming charges is a major step forward for the digital transformation of Africa. It will make it easier and cheaper for people to stay connected, boost trade and investment, and promote economic growth in the region.