African states meet to discuss ICT policy harmonization

NAIROBI, KENYA – Members of the East Africa Community (EAC) are meeting in Nairobi to discuss plans for regional ICT policy harmonization and to determine if and how a single regulation policy can be applied uniformly.

“Our ultimate aim is to ensure that the policy must not favor one country or its businesses and citizens over another,” said Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communication.

The EAC, which includes Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, has lagged behind in its quest to unite the region due to a sentiment among members that policy plans favor Kenya.

Noting the need to expand regional e-commerce regulation, Ndemo argued that the EAC ICT policy will enable cross-border trade that benefits even the landlocked partner countries equally.

The current meeting will discuss a draft harmonization framework for ICT Policies in the region, and the findings will guide national stakeholders in their discussions on the best and most practical way to achieve national and regional ICT policy objectives, said Juma Mwapachu, EAC secretary general.

“The telecom reform process is directed at creating an environment to foster massive expansion in the coverage and capabilities of the information infrastructure networks,” Mwapachu said.

The draft framework identifies interconnection costs, innovative technology and finance, open access, Internet governance, and ICT-related environmental concerns (e-waste) as the major issues to be addressed.

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