Radio spectrum experts meet in Accra over quality service provision

BY: Emelia Ennin Abbey & Nowellyn Agbeve
Mr George Andah (middle) a Deputy Minister of Communications, interacting with some participants after the opening ceremony of the 2nd ECOWAS World Radiocommunications Conference in Accra. Among them is Mr Joe Anokye, the Director General of National Communications Authority (NCA) and Mr Elhadi Maman Laminou (right) the Executive Secretary of WATRA. Picture: EBOW HANSON
Mr George Andah (middle) a Deputy Minister of Communications, interacting with some participants after the opening ceremony of the 2nd ECOWAS World Radiocommunications Conference in Accra. Among them is Mr Joe Anokye, the Director General of National Communications Authority (NCA) and Mr Elhadi Maman Laminou (right) the Executive Secretary of WATRA. Picture: EBOW HANSON

An international meeting to discuss the provision of affordable and high quality telecommunication services in the West African sub-region opened in Accra Monday.

Attended by radio spectrum experts of the national telecommunications regulatory authorities in West Africa, the three-day meeting, which is the second of a preparatory consultation by members of the West African Telecommunications Regulations Assembly (WATRA), is being hosted by the National Communications Authority (NCA), in collaboration with WATRA and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission.

Delegates are expected to come up with decisions to represent the position of West Africa during the third African Telecommunications Union (ATU) meeting scheduled for Cairo, Egypt, from September 17-19, 2018.

The outcome of the Cairo meeting will take the ECOWAS Common Position (ECOCOP) that will be presented during the World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC) in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt between October 28 and November 22, 2019.

Connectivity


In a speech read on her behalf at the opening session of the meeting, the Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said regulators of the communications industry needed to proactively collaborate to better manage the region’s frequency resource.

“This goes to indicate that there is the need for us to upscale the utility of our wireless resources to help ensure that the digital divide is urgently closed and no one is left behind in this global transition to a fully fledged information and knowledge society,” she said.
Radio frequency, she said, was the bedrock on which all communication rode currently and so there was the need to handle it prudently in order to maximise its benefit.

“Today’s society requires instant connectivity, not only for people but in connecting people to things and machines to machines, which has brought about discussions on how the intelligence of mankind is increasingly complemented by artificial intelligence, cloud computing and the Internet of things (IoT),” she said.

When regulators implemented and facilitated the judicious use of spectrums and frequencies, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said, it would support the provision of efficient health delivery, access to education, scientific and technical advancement, among other things.

Global digitalisation

For the West African sub-region to fully participate in global digitalisation, the Communications Minister stressed the need to focus on the provision of additional frequencies to meet the rapidly growing demand for mobile broadband communications, regulatory conditions for the operation of Earth Stations in Motions (ESIMs), new allocations for meteorological and earth-exploration satellite services for improved global environmental and climate change monitoring.

Additionally, she said, the West African sub-region would have to enhance maritime communications systems, facilitate the use of on-board digital transmissions and automatic identification system on vessels for improved navigation safety.

Boundaries

In a welcome address, the Director-General of the NCA, Mr Joe Anokye, said trends in the digital age were breaking down traditional boundaries in the communications sector and connecting the world with ease.

The new trend, he said, made the work of radio spectrum experts crucial to the sub-region and to the world at large.

The NCA, he said, had introduced new facilities aimed at enhancing its regulatory work and was ready to share its experiences with members of WATRA.

For his part, the Executive Secretary of WATRA, Mr Elhaji Maman Laminou, said telecommunications and ICT remained the backbone for the achievement of the socio-economic integration of West Africa.

He said radio-frequency spectrum was a scarce resource and crucial for the development of the telecommunications industry in Africa, where 99.99 per cent of access to the Internet was mainly through wireless mobile.

The WRC, he said, was held every four years to review and revise radio regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary-satellite orbits.

Ahead of the meeting, each region holds a preparatory meeting to discuss and take a common position on all the agenda points.

West Africa organised its first preparatory meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, in June 2017, during which the structure of the meetings was adopted and experts from member states were appointed to various working groups to come up with outputs.