An idea, Fibre WithoutÂ Borders, conceptualized by the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, for achieving a breathtaking telecom connectivity for the African continent, has taken the centre stage at the ongoing ITU World 2009 going on here in Geneva, Switzerland.
The idea, muted by the foremost telecom engineer from Nigeria about two months ago, may become a topic for discussion when African heads of states and governments meet in early 2010 to discuss how to improve the economies and lives of the citizens in the African continent.
Engr. Ndukwe had during the Nigeriaâ€™s Day at the event, which held at the Ramada Park Hotel, emphasized the need for the continent to evolve a solution that would ensure seamless connectivity across the continent, as encapsulated in the FWB initiative.
He called the African governments to support this initiative which holds the key for intra traffic exchange for telecommunications within the continent, and would enable Africa benefit maximally from the existing and future undersea optics fibre cable infrastructure that may otherwise, not be accessible to landlocked African countries.
At the Nigeriaâ€™s day, attended by senior official of ITU, including the Secretary General of the Union, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, Director, Telecom Standards Bureau, Mr. Malcom Johnson, Director of ITUâ€™s Telecom Development Bureau, Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Minister of Communications and Information Technology of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Engr. Mohamed Jamil Mulla, policy makers and regulators across the African continent and the rest of the world,Â the FWB became a reference proposal endorsed by the leaders to achieve the desired African connectivity in the nearest future.
ITU Television, which transmitted live broadcasts of events at the ITU World 2009, also featured Engr Ndukwe to discuss the import and potentials of the FWB concept. Engr. Ndukwe told the TV hosts that this idea is to encourage the leaders and decision makers to relax any barriers that will not encourage cross border operators. This he said does not affect or encroach on their sovereignties, but will only allow for information flow which will even make telecommunications delivery even cheaper for the citizens of these countries.
Engr. Ndukwe confirmed to ITU TV that this major initiative is receiving a lot of attention at the moment and that it would be taken up at various regional summits in the continent and the meeting of African leaders in early 2010.
On the activities of the Africa Telecom Regulators Assembly, WATRA, founded by Engr. Ndukwe in early 2000, he told his hosts that this organization is very important as regional integration is very critical for socio-economic development in the region and what operators will like to see is that as they set up business in different countries within the region that they see some form of commonality in terms of policy and regulation.
That will enable the operators to see the region as a market and we will therefore enjoy some form of economy of scale.
He said this is working very well at the moment and that some of the activities engaged by this organization is capacity building for the whole of the sub-region. He also said that the development partners in international locations are using this opportunity to address the sub-region as one the cost of doing this has therefore become cheaper rather than going from one country to another to repeat the same thing all over again.
He said members of the organization also share information and policy initiativesÂ within this organization.
On the challenges facing telecom regulation in Nigeria, Engr Ndukwe said having achieved voice telephony, the emphasis is shifting from rolling out services to having good quality of service and ensuring that Nigeria has Internet and broadband services. â€œ
We are reorganizing our institution to focus on that so that regulators will be more consumer focused in terms of meeting their needs and ensuring that new developments like Internet and broadband are generally available to the consumersâ€ , he said.