On Wednesday morning, a historic signing of a declaration on reducing intra-CARICOM roaming charges took place in St George’s, Grenada.
Grenada Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, Lead Head of Government responsible for Science and Technology in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet, and representatives of telecommunications companies Digicel and Cable & Wireless signed the document.
The Grenada leader hailed the event as one of immense importance.
But Mitchell explained that the signing had only partially achieved the ultimate objective of the total elimination of roaming charges throughout CARICOM.
“This declaration essentially means that our citizens will have options to use their mobile phones as they move freely within the single space at reduced cost. Our citizens will be able to travel without the fear of incurring he normal exorbitant charges for voice and data usage as they conduct business and keep in touch with loves ones and their businesses,” the Grenada Prime Minister stated.
“We firmly believe therefore that this critical reduction in roaming charges will help drive digital commerce, regional integration and economic development and will have an even greater impact when total elimination is achieved,” Mitchell expressed.
He asserted that the current unpredictable cost of mobile roaming deters CARICOM citizens from using their mobile phones as they travel throughout the region.
Mitchell expressed that citizens and policymakers welcomed the signing of the St George’s Declaration to make roaming charges more transparent, predictable, and affordable.
Due to considerations regarding technical matters and public awareness campaigns, the parties to the declaration have agreed on an implementation time frame between the second and third quarter of 2022.
With a mandate from CARICOM leaders, the regional negotiating team began discussions with Digicel and Cable & Wireless representatives in August last year.
The goal was to identify effective and feasible measures to eliminate roaming charges among CARICOM member states.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who was present virtually at the signing of the St George’s Declaration, said close monitoring would take the place of adherence to the commitments made.
“We encourage consumer groups to do so as well,” she said.
“Aand we are of course prepared to take whatever action necessary to ensure that from today our citizens can enjoy broader services and lower, more predictable and capped costs as we move towards that coveted single space and indeed my great dream – he elimination of roaming charges for our citizens in the Caribbean Community,” Mottley stated.