NAIROBI, KENYA – Starhome, a mobile phone roaming services provider, has launched its Prepaid Anywhere service in Africa to take advantage of the continent’s high rate of prepaid subscribers, which stands at 90 to 95 per cent.

The number of roaming agreements in Africa is low because the agreements are expensive and complex to implement, noted Starhome marketing officer Amy Daniel.

The key challenge for African operators wishing to provide roaming solutions to prepaid customers is their dependence on CAMEL (Customized Applications for Mobile Enhanced Logic) technology. Operators must enter into bilateral agreements with one another in order to offer CAMEL-based solutions, and these agreements require customers to pay a deposit –US$500 in Kenya, for example — for roaming service.

Prepaid users are currently unable to generate roaming revenues in many visited countries due to the scattered nature of CAMEL coverage and the difficulties involved in reaching new agreements, Daniel explained.

“This situation is untenable, especially considering the extremely high percentage of prepaid subscribers in Africa,” she said. Starhome’s Prepaid Anywhere eliminates the need for bilateral CAMEL roaming agreements, enabling mobile operators to offer roaming services to their prepaid subscribers while they travel in any roaming partner’s network.

Starhome believes African mobile operators will immediately boost revenues by tapping into the under-served, yet lucrative, prepaid market.