International dialing codes will also change and international callers to MTN Rwanda numbers will no longer be required to dial the zero digit after the country code as previously required.
MTN Rwanda has announced an imminent ‘Number Plan Change’, from the current 8 digit number to a new 10 digit number as required by national and international telecommunication regulators.
During a press briefing at MTN center, Nyarutarama held yesterday Chief Operations Officer (COO) Andrew Rugege stressed that the change is a requirement set off by Rwanda Utilities Regulator Agency (RURA), the body that regulates public utilities, and it will be effective on the first day of February.
“This is a RURA initiative, to cater for the growing customers for the telecommunications sector and to align the Rwandan numbering and code structures with the region,” Rugege said.
“All telecommunications services providers are obliged by law to enable this initiative,” he said.
Apart from the telecommunications network, RURA also regulates electricity, water, the removal of waste products from residential and business premises, the extraction and distribution of gas, as well as transport in the country.
Acording to Rugege effective 1st February, this year a new number – 78 – will be added after the first usual zero, to all numbers on MTN Rwanda’s network.
“This will result in a new ten digit number, replacing the current eight digit number,” Rugege explained.
With an illustration Rugege explained saying that a number with digits like 08312345, would become 0788312345 and, likewise, all other numbers on the network would change accordingly. The number 03123456 would eventually become 0783123456.
International dialing codes will also change and officials explained that international callers to MTN Rwanda numbers will no longer be required to dial the zero digit after the country code as previously required.
“Calling a local number like +250 08312345 will change to +250 788312345 and the SMS message center will change from the current +250 08110333 to +250 788110333,” Rugege explained.
“In addition, MTN customers will dial 000 instead of the current 00 when calling a number outside Rwanda. For example, calls to a London, UK number will no longer start with 0044, since callers will now dial 00044 or +44,” he added.
Rugege further explained that there will be a pre-recorded message, in the country’s three languages including English, French and Kinyarwanda, notifying all callers about the change.
“For the first month, callers will be connected automatically after hearing the message,” he said, adding that this message will only remain live for a further two months but callers will be required to redial a number using the appropriate dialing codes.
The message service will be discontinued on May 1 2009.
Rugege also acknowledged the fact that MTN customers will experience interruptions on the evening of January 31 “during the number change over” but stressed that MTN Rwanda will ensure that the interruptions are minimal.
The briefing was also attended by Senior Sales and Marketing Manager Yvonne Manzi Makolo who despelled any fears that the Rwandan market was reaching a saturation point.
“There is really a big room to grow, the market is not saturated. The target of two million subscribers is really realistic,” she said.
Two million subscribers - target for 2009
The MTN executives said that they expect to attract one million subscribers by the end of 2009 to supplement an already existing number of one million.
Rugege said “We are expecting, this year, we will invest just over one hundred million dollars,” he said, while being careful not to disclose much to competitors.”
“The only thing we can reveal right now is that most of this money will go to improving our network and improving further coverage. As numbers increase, we have to increase the capacity of our masts,” he added.
MTN has a geographic national coverage of 82 percent.