ECOWAS seeks to Harmonise Regional Telecommunications Market Regulation

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REPRESENTATIVES from the ministries of telecommunications and information and communications technology, ICT, of member States of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, have called for increased co-operation amongst national regulatory authorities for the effective regulation of the ICT market.

This was one of the major recommendations of delegates during a two-day meeting which concluded on  September 4, in Abuja, Nigeria.

The meeting which was convened to review the guidelines on market analysis and evaluation of Significant Market Power, SMP, and the recommendation on relevant market goods and services for the region also called for the Commission to consider regulating Over-The-Top, OTT, services at regional level.

The guidelines and recommendations complement the provisions of the Supplementary Act A/SA 2/01/07 on Access and Interconnection to Networks and Services in the ICT sector as envisaged in Article 19, item 2(b) and (c) that the ECOWAS Commission undertakes the publication of the guidelines on market analysis and evaluation of significant market power and recommendations on relevant markets for goods and services in the telecommunications sector.

These guidelines and recommendations will provide regulatory authorities in member states the relevant tools to promote market analysis and to adopt a coordinated approach to market regulation. It will also ensure the sustainable development of the ECOWAS domestic market and provide the requisite legal security to service operators and providers.

Raphael Koffi, commission’s acting director for Digital Economy and Post, stated that the publication of a regional guideline on market analysis and a recommendation on relevant markets is important not only in the context of the harmonisation of policies, but will also allow operators to face similar rules and same conditions for operating in a market irrespective of which country they are operating in.

“This indeed shall form the foundations for provision of certain applicable ICT services regionally beyond the geographic borders of a country, which is the ultimate goal of ECOWAS as a trade and customs union,” he said.

Similarly, on behalf of the delegates, Wakili Saidu from the Nigerian federal ministry of communications highlighted that access and interconnection of ICT networks and services are paramount for the promotion of economic integration in the region.

The ECOWAS ministers in charge of ICT and telecommunications had at their 12th ministerial meeting held in 2013 in Banjul, called for the commission to develop and publish the guidelines for the identification of appropriate markets in the region in line with Supplementary Act A/SA.2/01/07 relating to access and interconnection of the networks and services in the ICT sector.

The guidelines and recommendations would be presented to the ICT ministers for adoption during their meeting scheduled to hold in 2019.

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