By EMEKA AGINAM
The Programme Coordinator of African Telecommunications Union, ATU, Alice Koech, yesterday in Lagos, said that harmonized telecommunications regulatory frame work for African countries would soon be put in place to implement consumer friendly policies.
Koech, in her presentation during the ongoing first conference of African Telecoms regulations on consumer affairs organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, which kicked off in Lagos yesterday, told the gathering that harmonised regulatory regimes for the continent would improve regulatory framework and policies of all participating countries thereby ensuring improved telecom consumer satisfaction.
Although she did not disclose when the harmonised policies would be put in place, she said that liberalization of the international (voice) gateways, converged licensing and technology neutral spectrum licensing were major developments in regulatory environment that have been observed in the past five years.
According to her, equitable access to marine optical fibre cables by all countries in particular landlocked countries, making available the digital dividend spectrum to foster broadband in particular in remote areas, market based spectrum licensing for better maximization pf spectrum utilization and service neutral licensing were areas that needed urgent regulatory harmonization within African continent.
For the Deputy Director, Consumer Affairs of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Dr. J. O. Atoyebi, in a round table on how multiple regulation impacts telecom expansion/penetration, said with optimism that if the harmonised regulation was approved by ATU, telecoms consumers will not only enjoy best quality of service but will have their interest protect.
According to him, at the end the forum, African countries represented would put in place appropriate polices that protect the interest of the telecoms consumers.
He said: “I do not know when the harmonised regulations will come. This conference is designed to begin the action plans which will be proposed to ATU for approval. Once it takes off, it is going to be a new beginning for the continent.”