President Paul Kagame on Thursday expressed frustration with the slow pace at which African countries are adopting the one area network that seeks to reduce charges for international voice calls.
Speaking at Transform Africa summit in Kigali on Thursday, Kagame said that the delay to scale up the one area network is not due to lack of technology or skills but lack of will among some players.
"The delay that has been there has not been because of technology, it is not lack of knowledge. It has not even been because of lack of infrastructure. It is because of lack of a sense of urgency to make what we have in place work for us," he said.
The president said that some players fail to understand the overall benefits of digital integration.
Even when we were coming to start with a number of countries in this region, he said, there were lots of arguments.
He added that some people genuinely felt that they were going to lose while others were gaining which could have been a result of lack of understanding.
"In actual fact everyone benefits, be it those who have made investments in these technologies, [telecom companies], be it the ordinary citizens, the private sector, everybody benefits," Kagame said.
The one area network now has about five countries working together in the east African region, and for two years, Rwanda and other East African Community countries of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan have been talked about as one area network success stories.
The one area network regional framework comprises countries that agreed to eliminate additional taxes and levies on international calls within the region.
The project was sealed under the Northern Corridor Infrastructure framework.
It led to signing of agreement between Safaricom, MTN and Airtel enabling subscribers to receive calls for free while travelling in either country and pay a flat rate of 0.11 U.S. dollars for calls to other East African countries.
The initiative, launched in January 2015, led to a decline in charges of mobile phone communication across borders in East Africa. It dramatically led to increase in the volume of calls by 800 percent across the borders, according to officials.
Mali’s president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita warned that failure to foster cooperation among African countries risked missing out on opportunities availed by technology adoption as has happened in the past.