Wednesday, February 27, 2008

West Africa - reforms

Ecowas to Develop Framework for Telecom Services

Stakeholders in the West African telecommunications sector are to evolve a framework for ensuring the region-wide implementation of the six Supplementary Acts to improve telecommunications services in West Africa during a workshop, which opened in Lome, yesterday. The Acts were approved by Heads of State and Governments during their rescheduled 2006 Summit held in January 2007 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

It aims at improving the competitiveness of the telecommunications market, promote greater regulation of the market and attract more investment into the sector. It will also ensure the harmonious development of the sector and promote greater access in order to bridge the digital gap in the region and place it on the information superhighway.

The three-day workshop, which would be attended by telecommunications regulators, officials of relevant ministries and parliamentarians from member states, will agree on a mechanism for overcoming the anticipated constraints against the integration and domestication of the Acts in Member States as a follow-up to the plan of action developed by the states after its adoption by the summit.

A joint project of the commissions of ECOWAS, the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA) and the government of Togo, it will provide an opportunity for each country to present the status of implementation of the texts, the constraints and obstacles encountered and the technical and financial assistance required from the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions for implementation.

This process will enable Member States avoid the lengthy transposition process associated with Community texts to ensure expeditious implementation.

The Acts envisage the interconnection of networks and services, the establishment of a legal regime for operators, the management of numbering plans, the spectrum management and the provision of universal access and services.

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