27
Jan

ECOWAS moves to ensure better GSM services

BEFORE the end of this year, the desire by citizens of West African countries to communicate by means of the Global System of Mobile Telecommunications may be realised. The dream is to be actualised through a synchronised network that can quicken access to the countries.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced in Abuja that two sub-groups had been set up by its technical branch on GSM Roaming to address the core issues of interconnectivity of regional networks and tariff harmonisation that will facilitate the introduction of a region-wide roaming facility in West Africa by December 2006.

Observers have often deplored the prevailing situation in the sub-region whereby it is easier to put a call by GSM to countries in Europe or America than access a line in a country in West Africa, despite the proximity.

According to the ECOWAS Secretariat, the first group would make proposals for strengthening trans-border interconnectivity to ensure the free flow of intra-community calls through improvements in telecommunications infrastructure. The second is expected to review the proposals already adopted by GSM operators on tariff harmonisation and billing.

Interestingly, leaders of the African Union (AU), at their recently concluded meeting, also adopted the report on the implementation of the project for the creation of a unified telecommunications numbering space for Africa.

ECOWAS Secretariat said yesterday in Abuja that the two groups have already approved actions plans indicating critical activities to be undertaken towards the realisation of the project, which was originally approved during the January 12th, 2006 29th Ordinary Summit of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Niamey.

Meanwhile, the technical group has also proposed some measures for implementation under a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) involving member states, telecommunications regulators in the sub-region and GSM operators that will enhance the creation of an environment conducive for the realisation of the project.