Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has urged the region's regulators to address the high telecommunications roaming charges imposed on travellers.
Addressing the 14th Annual General Meeting of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) in Sinkor, Monrovia, President Sirleaf said, "One key situation to consider is how to address the high telecommunications roaming charges our people face when commuting across the region."
The Chairperson acknowledged efforts being made to address the costs, but appealed to operators and regulators to quickly draw up a framework to make the zero-cost roaming target a reality.
She said there is a strong need for regulatory oversight in the region to ensure sustainability.
"I endorse ECOWAS five-year ICT strategic plan that seeks to address overdue infrastructure gaps in the ICT sector which has been validated...WATRA has a role as a stakeholder within the sector to robustly support how these programs can be actualised."
Cross-border SIM cards
Chairperson of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA), Angelique Weeks, has called on ECOWAS' regulators and telecoms stakeholders to develop a policy that will allow GSM SIM cards to be used across the region. She revealed this during the WATRA assembly.
"If that is done by telecom operators it will be a plus to them by sharing of information across borders, including Value Added Services (VAS)," she said.
According to her, when SIM cards are harmonised among ECOWAS states, citizens of the sub-region would not have to change their SIM cards whenever they travel to member states for any business-related activities.
She said: "Citizens of ECOWAS countries are presently using a single travelling document, the ECOWAS passport, it harmonises the work of the sub-region and gives easy passage to citizens. Though Africa seems to have some great challenges in the sector, we are now overcoming them by developing a policy that will be beneficial to member states, particularly across ECOWAS borders amid other Value Added Services (VAS) with the deployment of the right ICT tools."