African governments and policymakers are collaborating to unlock digital economy opportunities for their people, according to Aliyu Yusuf Aboki, West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) Executive Secretary.
Aboki dropped this hint in Abuja at a recent event where Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), joined Mr. Babacar Matar Ndiaye, Senegal Ambassador to Nigeria, to hoist the flag of Senegal at the Secretariat of WATRA.
The WATRA Executive Secretary says that the presence of the two top officials underscores the importance that “policymakers and political authorities in Africa attach to the digital economy as a means of promoting investment, jobs, and growth.”
Aboki: WATRA Promoting Telecoms Regulatory Cohesion
For the people of West Africa, the meeting also signifies the sub-regional determination to work together in order to improve telecoms regulations in a manner that enables “operators and investors to deliver more affordable, higher quality and more innovative services.”
Nigeria’s telecoms regulatory chief, who is also the Chairman of the Executive Council of WATRA, Danbatta, says that the event was of such profound significance that it transcends the physical hoisting of the flag but “symbolises the cohesion taking place in WATRA” and giving concrete and louder expression to collaboration and cooperation among members states of the regional telecom regulatory body.
He says that the increasing demonstration of co-operation and cohesion by WATRA member states signifies an unflinching commitment to harnessing ICT resources to improve the quality of life of the people of the sub-region, noting that ICT remains an enabler for bridging the gaps in the pathway to development.
Ambassador Ndiaye, who is also Senegal’s Permanent Representative to ECOWAS, described the ceremony as a happy occasion, noting that it was gratifying to gather at WATRA Secretariat to hoist the flag of Senegal alongside those of other member states.
Senegal has never relented in making remarkable contributions to ECOWAS and other regional bodies and indicated his country’s readiness to work within the political and economic framework of ECOWAS to streamline challenges facing regulators like WATRA, he says.
Ndiaye notes that among the key challenges regulators face are the emergent Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, the convergence of networks and applications, the imperative of infrastructure sharing and the increasing needs of telecom consumers, dynamics of financial services, and electronic commerce in general. Ndiaye asserted that the telecom regulator is central to the acceleration of growth in other sectors of the economy and therefore occupies a significant place in the socio-economic space.
He looks forward to continued collaboration to address the myriads of challenges in the telecom sector, and notes that the outbreak of COVID-19 and the envisioned post-COVID-19 relations have compounded the challenges of telecoms regulation.
The Senegalese envoy seized the opportunity of the occasion to convey the gratitude of the Government and people of Senegal to the Federal Government of Nigeria for hosting WATRA, and thanked the NCC for the support it has continued to offer WATRA and for promoting greater cooperation among member states towards harnessing the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Aboki, who also recalled the rare strides made by Senegal in promoting the digital economy amplified the voice of Ndiaye by expressing the gratitude of the 16 member countries of WATRA to the Nigerian Government, which, through the NCC, has continued to support “the Assembly and for hosting WATRA.”
The West African Regulators Assembly (WATRA) is made up of ECOWAS member states and Mauritania. The hoisting of the flag of member states of WATRA at the Secretariat, an initiative of the Danbatta-led Executive Council, started after the last AGM where Aboki and Danbatta emerged, respectively, as Executive Secretary and Chairman of the Executive Council.
Thirteen member states had their respective flags hoisted at the AGM while Mauritania later sent a representative to perform the flag hoisting ceremony.
With Senegal’s symbolic presentation of its flag and its hoisting, WATRA looks forward very excitedly to The Republic of Ghana to present and hoist its flag soon, in order to complete that process to further consummate the bonding among members of the Assembly, Aboki says.