The West African Telecoms Regulators Assembly (WATRA) has acknowledged the need to develop technical and regulatory means to combat the rising wave of electronic fraud. It also hopes to address the standardisation of roaming tariffs in the sub-region.
These were the main results of a two-day meeting organised by WATRA in collaboration with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), which took place this week in Abuja.
The meeting was attended by representatives of telecoms regulators from countries across West Africa. They deliberated on the advantages of building a unified market in telecommunications services in West Africa in order both to combat roaming and cyber-related frauds and also to achieve the standardisation of roaming tariffs among ECOWAS member states.
The Executive Vice Chairman of The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Chairman of WATRA Professor Umar Garba Danbatta (who was represented by NCC’s Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Bako Wakil) noted that about 75 per cent of trade within ECOWAS is informal, and thus poorly recorded.
Digitising trade through electronic payments would thus be a significant step towards formalising, governing and boosting intra-ECOWAS trade activities. However, he pointed out, this in turn requires improved collaboration on combating electronic fraud.
As for regional roaming, he noted that reducing and eventually eliminating the cost of roaming for both voice and data would be a significant contributor towards boosting trade within the region.
The question now is when and how these laudable intentions can be realised. Many other regions have removed roaming fees including, within Africa, the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).