The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS will scrap international roaming charges for its citizens from January 2020. This was approved by Ministers in charge of Telecommunications and ICT in the member countries during the 15th Meeting of the Ministers held at Praia Cabo Verde.
The high cost of roaming charges faced in the region has made most people resort to purchasing local SIM cards whenever they travel or use Over-the-Top (OTT) services on Wi-Fi networks. The initiative aims to create an enabling environment for citizens to access affordable roaming services for voice, SMS, and data.
It will also reduce the current roaming rates within the ECOWAS sub-region, promote cross border investments and encourage competitive call charges among network providers in West Africa. The implementation of the ECOWAS Roaming Initiative implies more revenues for Mobile Network Operators (MNO) and increases tax revenue for governments of the member states. It will also foster regional integration and economic development, as well as prepare the region for the AfCFTA.
Also at the meeting, there were discussions regarding a supplementary act on universal access and funds for digital services. Some laboratories were selected for accrediting DTT decoders to ensure compliance with the ECOWAS standards.
Other discussions centred around promoting the cybersecurity agenda to ensure cybersecurity in West Africa. This agenda is aimed at assisting member states to develop national cybersecurity strategies, establish national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), improve cyber legislation and train law enforcement agents.
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