By Aidoghie Paulinus and Charles Ogili
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament Joint Committee on Telecommunications and Information Technology/Education, Science and Culture/Trade Customs and Free Movement, has recommended ways to achieve seamless roaming within the ECOWAS sub-region.
The recommendations were the outcome of a five-day delocalised meeting of the committee held in Niamey, Republic of Niger.
In its recommendation, the committee called on the ECOWAS Parliament to partner with the ECOWAS Commission in all the phases of the development and implementation of the telecommunications and information technology policies and programmes.
The committee also tasked the ECOWAS Parliament and ECOWAS Commission to ensure support from highest authorities at national level (Presidents and Prime Ministers) for effective implementation of the regulation for the benefits of ECOWAS citizens.
Amongst other recommendations, the committee also called on the ECOWAS Parliament and ECOWAS Commission to ensure that National Regulatory Agencies (NRAs) utilize their powers within the limits of applicable law and regulations to compel the mobile operators to comply with all provisions of the regulation.
Penalties, the committee added, should also be envisaged for operators that refuse to comply.
The committee further recommended to member states to ensure that a regulator is in place to ensure proper regulation of MNOs and SPs in the provision of high-quality and affordable roaming services to consumers.
While saying that set standards must be adhered to by all, the committee further recommended that member states should provide incentives to fledging mobile network operators and service providers to encourage them to provide high-quality and affordable roaming services to consumers.
“This could involve encouraging new entrants into the market, promoting market liberalization and deregulation, and removing barriers to entry for new players,” the committee said.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis, has charged Members of the ECOWAS Parliament and all relevant stakeholders to remain committed to the cause of ensuring a seamless roaming within the sub-region.
Speaking during the closing ceremony of the ECOWAS Parliament Joint Committee on Telecommunications and Information Technology/Education, Science and Culture/Trade Customs and Free Movement, Tunis said a win in this sphere will facilitate the reality of implementing the Protocol on Free Movement of People, goods and services, thereby enhancing the citizens’ active participation in the overall regional economic activities.
Tunis who was represented by the Fourth Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Adja Satu Camara Pinto, also said though daunting, the task to the people is simple.
“We must continue to find, create, and consolidate on every means and opportunity to bring the above stated to fruition. Once again, I implore you to continue to work towards making the sub-region progressive for the betterment of the lives of its citizens,” Tunis said.