AU to unveil single African SIM card
(PANA)-- The African Union (AU) has unveiled plans for a single standardised SIM card for all African mobile phone operators in an effort to save millions of subscribers the extra cost and register the dot African domain name, senior officials said on Thursday.
AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Elham Ibrahim, said a study on the introduction of a single African SIM card has been underway and ‘is expected to be completed within a month’.
The Commission would then hold a validation workshop with the key industry players in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to agree on the technical details needed to have the mobile phone operators accept the use of a single African SIM card, which it hopes would reduce the cost of roaming phone services.
‘It is an indication that we are walking the talk,’ the AU Commissioner said. AU’s Head of Telecommunication Division, Moctar Yedaly, said funds for the assessment of the technical requirements to be fulfilled before the launch of the SIM (Subscribers Identification Module), are estimated at $100,000.
‘The network set up should be finalised. Once this has been finalised, we would host a workshop. Any country interested in hosting such a workshop should come up to work out the other details,’ Yadely told PANA
He said the details being worked out included an agreement on the revenue-sharing and the acceptability of the pre-paid mobile phone SIM airtime if the users of the single SIM card migrate to other operators in the various African countries.
The AU is looking at the networks operated by the South African multinational, MTN Group, which has operations in over 16 African countries.
The AU is also working on the registration of the domain name; dot Africa, which it hopes to register. Yedely said a taskforce has been established to work out the modalities of registering the dot Africa internet domain. ‘A tender would be flouted for the firm to manage the domain name, dot Africa,’ he said.
AU officials, who spoke on the sidelines of an AU Executive Council meeting, underway in Addis Ababa, also announced the implementation of an ambitious information technology plan for Africa, which aims to ease the telecommunication shortfalls that Africa faces.
The Pan African e-network, which has received 47 African signatories, aims to provide secure connections to several sites to enable African students to study telemedicine.
So far, the Pan African e-Network has seen 258 medical consultations conducted while 922 medical consultations are currently ongoing through the network. It has been connected to 133 sites out of the maximum of 170, the AU Commissioner told a news conference. The project is funded by India.
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