West Africa just got smaller. Literally. MTN, a leading telecommunications company in Africa has just launched a new service named MTN Seamless Roaming on a pilot basis. Though this name (MTN Seamless Roaming) is less funky than their usual product brands, it is in my view, the best value added service they ever launched. The announcement about this new service was made by MTN Ghana on 6th November 2008.
Hitherto, one had to pay through the nose to roam in West Africa. One paid to make and receive calls. Receiving text messages was free-of-charge, but sending text messages was impossible. With MTN Seamless Roaming however, one can receive calls for free, send text messages, make calls at local rates and recharge airtime using local recharge cards when roaming on any MTN network (4 countries presently) outside one’s home network.
MTN would later extend this service to their other networks in Africa and the Middle East. The MTN Group currently has operations in 21 countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Iran, Afghanistan, Benin, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Liberia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
I knew MTN would implement this service, ever since Zain (then known as Celtel) launched the world’s first borderless network aptly named “One Network”, in 2007. Zain currently has operations in 22 countries and roaming across their networks is seamless, for users in any of the countries they operate.
Well, though I know competition push MTN to this, I can still commend them for the courage it took to abolish the roaming fees. It is only sad that crossing West African border countries by road is still so very difficult but businesses like MTN, Ecobank, Zain are playing their part with the Ecowas dream.