Telecommunications Ministers Approve Proposal to Half the Tariff for Services in the Region
(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ABUJA, Nigeria, Sept. 30 -- The Economic Community of West African States issued the following news release:
ECOWAS Ministers in charge of Telecommunication/Information, Communication and Technology (ICT)on Friday, 27thSeptember 2013 agreed to work with
telecommunications operators in in the region to implement a proposal for a 50 per cent region-wide reduction in the cost of telecommunications services by May 28th for the benefit of the citizens.
At the end of their 12th ministerial meeting held in Banjul, the ministers also recommended the establishment of an inter-governmental working group that will 'deepen the reflection' on the feasibility of a proposal for the termination of taxes for incoming calls within the region.
The group is expected to work with the ECOWAS Commission to finalise the
reflection and take necessary measures to finalize the required activities
within the prescribed timeframe of six months.
While the ministers noted the divergent views expressed by experts at their
preceding meeting relating to charges tied to the distances for access to
submarine cables by landlocked countries, they urged the experts to revisit the issue so that they can arrive at consensus driven by the spirit of regional solidarity.
The ministers also requested the ECOWAS Commission to prepare and publish
guidelines relating to the identification of the relevant markets in the ECOWAS region on access and interconnection in respect of ICT sector networks and services.
The meeting also validated the common minimum technical specification for
Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) receivers in the ECOWAS Sub-region to
ensure their affordability. The Ministers therefore adopted the technical
roadmap scheduling (DTT) transition in the ECOWAS region for 31ST December 2014.
The Banjul Ministerial meeting also approved the recommendations made by the
West African Postal Conference WAPCO created by ministers of Post to facilitate the revitalization of postal sector in the ICT era.
The ministers praised the ECOWAS Commission for the progress recorded in the
implementation of the strategic projects in the sector, including the postal
sector and called for the improvement of the human and financial support for the telecommunications and Information Technology divisions of the Commission. Addressing delegates at the opening ceremony, the Vice President of the Gambia, Her Excellency Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy described Telecommunications and ICT as a game changer in the social and economic transformation in the ECOWAS sub-region as well as the African continent and the world at large.
She expressed Gambia's gratitude to the ECOWAS Commission for conceptualizing the ECOWAN project and the Islamic Development Bank IDB for funding the countries participation in this laudable initiative which represents the regional e-Governance platform.
She also commended ECOWAS for the foresight in sanctioning a study on the
formulation of an appropriate legislation to facilitate access for landlocked countries to the submarine cable, noting that the Connect Africa goal cannot be achieved if our sister landlocked countries are not connected to the submarine cables.
In a statement read on his behalf by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr Ebrima Njie, the ECOWAS President, His Excellency Kadre Desire Ouedraogo appealed to Member States to expedite the adoption and ratification of their national Telecommunication laws without delay.
The ECOWAS President informed delegates that ICT and in particular mobile
telecommunication sector has a positive impact on socio-economic developments thus creating jobs and increasing productivity with considerable social benefits.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Gambia's Minister of Information and
Communication Infrastructure, Nana Grey Johnson spoke of the benefits of
telecommunications and ICT to ECOWAS mainly through ensuring affordability,
accessibility and dependability in the sub-region's ICT infrastructure anchored in the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable.
He also underscored the need for Africa to rise to the task of eliminating the costly connections to local continental traffic through overseas carriers, noting that this inefficient and outdated business model has been a burden for far too long.
Statements were also delivered at the opening ceremony by the Honourable
Minister of Post, Information and Communication Technologies of Cote d'Ivoire, Mr. Bruno Kone and ITU Director of the Bureau de Development of
Telecommunication Mr. Brahima Sanou.
At a gala dinner organized for the delegates, the ECOWAS Director of Transport and Telecommunication, Mr, David Kamara thanked the government and the people of the Gambia for the warm hospitality and facilities put to their diposal.
TNS 18EstebanLiz-131003-30FurigayJane-4508341 30FurigayJane
(c) 2013 Targeted News Service
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