The Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is urging telecommunication experts in the region to address high telecommunications roaming charges faced by ECOWAS citizens when commuting across the region.
She made the urge on Thursday morning, 27 April while opening the 14th Annual General Meeting of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly or WATRA at the Bella Casa Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia.
“One key situation to consider in this regard is how to address the high telecommunications roaming charges our people face when commuting across the region”, President Sirleaf stressed. Liberia’s Telecommunications Authority or LTA is hosting delegates from ECOWAS countries in the telecommunication sector, including WATRA’s Chairman Gaoo Gomes and other Executives, among others.
The Liberian leader says she is interested in practical ways to effectively address the infrastructure gaps that are still affecting affordability of services across the region.
While acknowledging developments in the region, she suggests that there are specific targets that must be met as a people, challenging regulatory and policy experts to finalize projects that are being worked on for the good of ECOWAS.
The first female Chairperson of ECOWAS, President Sirleaf notes that over the last few years in ECOWAS’ ICT sector, cross-border connectivity has increased, driven by the need to ensure harmonization and standardization of services towards creating a common market.
She adds that member countries have shown commitment to domesticate ECOWAS Supplementary Acts into their respective national laws, aimed at creating a seamless operational environment that adds value to the development of the ICT sector. “Liberia’s delegations to ECOWAS forums have indicated that there is a Market Analysis and Business Model being considered to facilitate the building of an ECOWAS Wide Area Network”, she says.
At the same time President Sirleaf says there is a strong need for regulatory oversight in the region to ensure sustainability, while endorsing an ECOWAS five – year ICT strategic plan that seeks to address overdue infrastructure gaps in the ICT sector which has been validated. She concludes that WATRA also has a role as a stakeholder within the sector to robustly support how these programs can be actualized.
Liberia’s Posts and Telecommunications Minister, Dr. Frederick Nokeh, says technicians and specialists within the region, having resolved to enhance investment …, established the subregional group, WATRA in 2004 with the intent of closely monitoring telecommunications services for the region’s collective developmental needs. He expressed gratitude to the continuous support and unwavering commitment of President Sirleaf to the sector to ensure a people -friendly telecommunications industry here.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne