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WATRA 7th AGM Underway

Jul 8, 2009, 5:37 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The 7th Annual General Meeting of the West African Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly (WATRA) was yesterday Tuesday 7th July 2009, held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.

The forum, which attracted about fifteen member countries from the sub-region, was hosted by the Gambia Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA).

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Alagie B. Gaye, the Director-General of PURA said that "if there is any point in the history of the world that regulatory interventions are important, that time is now as we continue to face the challenges posed by the global financial meltdown, principally brought about by deficient regulation of the financial markets".

"In this regard, all of us gathered today have the collective responsibility to ensure that as professionals we work in partnership to achieve the objectives of WATRA", he stated.

This, Mr. Gaye added, is important if we are to speed up the development of a seamless communications network and infrastructure across West Africa, through the formulation and implementation of sound regulatory policies and programmes.

According to Mr. Gaye, "we are all learning and at the same time working towards putting in place cohesive and sustainable regulatory frameworks to ensure efficiency and equity that balances the interest of service providers and consumers".

"A few months ago, our National Assembly enacted the Information and Communications Act, 2009. This Act is a significant development in the Gambia's regulatory evolution as it complements the PURA Act of 2001, and clarifies the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders in the communications sector", Mr. Gaye added.

The Act, he went on, clearly spells out the modalities for licensing, spectrum management, universal service, numbering, among other regulatory functions within the communications sector.

"It also reflects regulatory and technological convergence, with specific provisions for the regulation of broadcasting and information society issues", he stated, adding that this has allowed for a clearer understanding of the complementary roles of all key players in communications industry.

Mr. Gaye further stated that their main task was to speed up the process of the harmonisation of telecommunication regulatory policies within our sub-region, through the ECOWAS supplementary Acts.

 "A more action-oriented approach towards harmonisation would ensure that WATRA will play a more pivotal role as a facilitator and a repository of knowledge of regulatory best practices within West Africa", he added.

He then tasked member countries in aligning the work of WATRA to that of ECOWAS, to facilitate the creation of a sustainable enabling environment that encourages competition and foster the trade of goods with other regions and continents within the global economy, through telecommunications regulatory policies.