A series of two back-to-back meetings of telecommunications governance bodies, Internet Cooperation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly’s (WATRA) 14th annual general meeting of the conference of regulators opened yesterday in Monrovia with a call to harmonize telecommunications polices within the West African region.
Madam Angelique Weeks, Chairperson of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), stressed that the pace of development in the industry would continue to accelerate and regulatory institutions in developing countries, especially in Africa, need to develop strategies to keep abreast with the trend.
“Our intent is to harmonize regulations across the region, so that you can move from one country to another in a similar fashion.
“So, think about it, we all have ECOWAS passport and so even though we still have to go through immigration, we have a document to show a common relationship among ourselves; likewise the telecommunications sector and that is what we are aiming for in the region,” she said.
She said such developments would create the enabling environment favorable to broadband deployment of wireless technologies for last mile connectivity to the internet.
“We urgently need to reach a clear understanding of wireless internet’s development potential, identify the obstacles and develop a realistic plan of action that would bring together all governments, stakeholders and the private sector and civil society in a coherent and sustainable endeavor,” the LTA chairperson said.
According to her, the conference is also intended to remove some of the barriers in the region, like free movement and affordable communications, which are in line with the LTA’s vision.
“So, within the next four days, we will be doing capacity building in the ICANN workshop that will teach the participants about the ICANN Ecosystem and many other issues that are relevant to it and very particular for Liberia.
“We did not only limit the workshop to WATRA’s delegates as an advantage to us (Liberians), to have it hosted here because we invited individuals and a cross section of entities, including governments and other business entities.
“Compliance absolutely is important; business people should not want for us to go after them but should make it their duty to meet all the requirements,” she added.
WATRA President, Pierre Dandjinou, who spoke via skype to the participants, wants to ensure that the internet continues to grow and evolve as a platform for innovation, economic development, and social progress for people around the world.
“We are the world’s trusted independent source of leadership for internet policy, technology standards, and future development, so I hope that this conference will help regulators understand the sector,” he said.
WATRA was born out of the need to address present day realities in the telecommunications industry in the sub-region, while focusing on the need for West Africa to evolve a harmonized regulatory identity to boost investment and investor confidence and to effectively regulate and monitor telecommunication services.
The conference is being attended by executives of telecommunication operators and regulation officials from other African countries, including Cellcom/Orange and Lonestar Cell MTN and other international telecommunication bodies.