Officials push for Africa-wide telecom agency

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO) is pushing for the formation of an African regulatory agency that will harmonize licensing and regulatory issues across Africa.

CTO Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah says the organization wants a single continental regulator that will likely force many African countries to move at the same level of Information and Communication Technology development.

The CTO is a London-based international organization that provides training and capacity-building programs as well as information and knowledge services that have helped to accelerate access to ICT in Africa. CTO draws most of its membership from developing countries.

The idea of a single continental regulator was at the center of debate at the African regional preparatory conference for the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) early this month in Ghana.

Some delegates argued that a more realistic approach is to create and encourage the growth of subregional regulatory bodies across Africa, rather than forming a new regulatory agency, while the CTO insisted that a single continental regulatory agency will be better placed to harmonize licensing and regulatory issues. Africa already has a number of subregional telecom regulators all working to harmonize licensing and regulations. These include the Telecommunications Regulatory Association of Southern Africa, West African Telecommunications Regulatory Association and the Forum for Telecommunication Regulators in Africa.