NCC’S NDUKWE SUGGESTS THAT WEST AFRICAN CALLS SHOULD BE LOCAL

Telecoms

With more people in the rural Africa getting access to telecommunication, indications have emerged that calls within the West African Sub-region will be treated as local calls going by plans by different regional governments in the region.

The Executive Vice- Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe who dropped this hint during the Telecom Consumer Parliament held last month in Lagos, noted that such common tariff has become necessary for the purpose of harmonization of ICT regulation and standards across Africa.

"Calls within the West African Sub-region should be treated as local calls. Plans are underway as meetings are being held by different regional governments to actualize a common tariff. There is need for common regional tariff to be established immediately within the region," Ndukwe pointed out.

He noted that what obtains in other regions of the world should also be applied in the West African Sub-region now that there is deregulation within the sector seen to be growing at geometric progression.

In a similar development, the Ghanaian Minister for Communications, Hon. Albert Kan-Dapaarh who spoke recently during the United Kingdom/African ICT conference held in Abuja and Lagos respectively, said that preparations have been underway in a number of fora and regional conferences are being held in all regions to adopt Regional Common Positions in the area of ICT.

"It is absolutely necessary that we continue to emphasize the importance of a Pan-Africa agenda. The comprehensive positions would be finalized at the next meeting of the Commonwealth ITU scheduled for London in August this year. These positions are not inconsistent with our observations at the African Ministerial symposium here in Abuja," he said.

According to him, African ministers were keen on seeing the development of modern communications infrastructure meeting the demands of ICT on the continent, even as he hoped that International Telecommunication Union will support the home grown initiatives as provided in the partnership framework for infrastructure for ICT in Africa.

"We also call for the recognition of the African Regional Action Plan on the knowledge economy that has been adopted by the African Union, AU, as a framework encompassing the Action Lines of the World Summit on Information Society, (WSIS). It is my sincere hope that WSIS will bear fruit in the form of real benefits to our people, to all of us," he added.

He was optimistic that Africa can help to promote better communication which he said is the lifeblood of promoting learning, understanding and trust, bringing us together and helping the continent to address what he described as multiple divides, at once, including poverty.

Kan-Dapaarh said that Ghana was committed to this effort of working with its Commonwealth partners and African neighbours to make the ITU ready to tackle the post-WSIS challenges ahead.

The Commonwealth proposals, he said, seek to strengthen the ITU and make it more efficient in the delivery of its objectives. "A well functional ITU will be a blessing to Africa. That is what the Commonwealth seeks to champion," he added.

Vanguard