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West African regulators look at how to tackle SAT3 international fibre monopoly

The West African Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) held a two day conference last week to look at how its members might address the issues raised by the SAT3 monopoly.

The conference heard Abi Jagun of APC and Ben Akoh of OSIWA present four country case studies that showed that rates were being kept artificially high, varied enormously between countries (on no clear basis, geographic or otherwise) and that the development of local markets was being impeded by these high prices.

A regulator from one country revealed that the incumbent operator of its national monopoly had refused to provide capital and operating costs, making it difficult to address price issues. Benchmarking was suggested as an alternative to a cost-based approach given these difficulties.

Another country’s regulator said every time it sought to address pricing issues with the monopoly operator, the Government leapt to the incumbent’s defense as it was shortly to be privatised. However, Ghana’s regulator NCA is to offer an international gateway licence in Q3 207 to those wanting to offer an alternative to the SAT3 fibre and as this week’s Top Story shows, there will be those willing to take up this offer.

Regulators listed the following issues they wish to address: transparent pricing; creating a regional regulatory regime for oversight of international fibre; access for landlocked countries; new service provider access; country-level adoption of the ECOWAS protocol; competitive access for the establishment of new facilities; and ECOWAS participation in inter-member dispute resolution.

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