ECOWAS ministers discuss ICT/Telecoms and Postal sectors

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 October 2019:

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, has appealed to colleague ministers of ECOWAS, for Sierra Leone to benefit from projects and programs supported by the ECOWAS Commission that will enhance Sierra Leone’s Digital Transformation Roadmap.

The Sierra Leone Digital Transformation Roadmap is currently being developed by his ministry, in line with the African Union Digital Transformation Strategy and the ECOWAS Digital programme.

Information Minister Swaray made this request in his address to colleague ministers and delegates in charge of ICT/Telecom and Postal sectors during the 16th ECOWAS ministerial meeting which took place at the  Laico Hotel, Ouagadougou, and Burkina Faso, last Friday.

The ECOWAS ministerial meeting is an event organised to consider and adopt harmonized regional policies, guidelines and recommendations prepared by the ECOWAS Commission towards the development of the Telecommunications/ICTs and Postal sectors in the ECOWAS region.

The ministerial meeting also serves as a platform where the status of the implementation of tasks assigned to the ECOWAS Commission by the ministers at previous meetings is also considered.

Minister Swaray used the occasion to reiterate president Julius Maada Bio’s commitment to the use of digital technologies and innovation in promoting and fostering regional integration.

The Telecommunications/ICT and Postal Sectors ministers’ meeting also looked at various programs that the ECOWAS Commission has initiated such as: affordable regional mobile telephony roaming; ICT accessibility policy for people with disability; Cyber Security agenda for a resilient cyberspace and enhancing the fight against cybercrime in the ECOWAS Region.

On the margins of the ministerial meeting, Minister Swaray interacted with delegates from Cape Verde on the possibility of Sierra Leone participating in a study on landing a second submarine cable, that could replace the current single ACE cable as well as linking the country to the Americas through Brazil.

Mr. Swaray also held discussions with his Ghanaian and Gambian counterparts on issues bordering Cyber Security, Universal Access Fund and the revitalization of Sierratel.

The minister was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communications, Mr. Augustine S. Sheku; Acting Director for Communications, Mr. Mohamed M. Jalloh; and the Deputy Director, Regulatory Administration, NATCOM, Mr. Musa Jalloh.

The ministerial meeting was preceded by an expert meeting which took place on 1st – 3rd October, 2019, where the ECOWAS Ministers reviewed and adopted the following reports: the ECOWAS ICT accessibility policy for Persons with Disabilities; the draft guidelines and recommendations on relevant market powers which have been developed by the Commission that sets out the principles for use by the National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) for more effective competition in the ICT markets of ECOWAS Member States; and the recommendations of the West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) towards fostering the sustainability, robustness and security that will promote the use of ICT services; as well as increase internet penetration to promote active participation and engagement of ECOWAS citizens, including the youth in internet governance discussions.

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