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Resolve data roaming challenges to aid devt – Bagbin urges ECOWAS

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has asked the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to address data roaming issues in the sub-region.

He said it was the surest way of ensuring the effective deployment and use of modern technology to achieve the needed regional development.

The speaker said this when he delivered a speech at the ECOWAS joint meeting at Winneba in the Central Region on Tuesday, July 27, 2021.

The Committee on Political Affairs, Peace, Security and Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Legal Affairs and Human Rights, and Telecommunications and Information Technology are organisers of the meeting.

In his speech, Mr Bagbin noted that telecommunications and information technology are fast becoming a driving force in digital ecosystems by seamlessly connecting communities, businesses and governments.

However, he expressed concern over the high charges paid on mobile data usage by nationals who travel to other countries in the sub-region for various activities.

In addition to this, nationals in the sub-region have to change their sim cards before they could have access to a telecommunication network at a new destination.

For him, such situations hamper regional development.

He further stated that there is a myriad of challenges faced by the ECOWAS countries such as data collection and data sharing which needed to be tackled.

He also highlighted challenges related to drug trafficking, child trafficking, proliferation and trafficking of small arms, organised crime, money laundering and terrorism.

In addition to this is the issue of cybercrime and insecurity in the maritime space, especially along the Gulf of Guinea, which has become a hotbed for pirates.

Mr Bagbin, therefore, asked member states to ensure the implementation of the regulation on Roaming on Public Mobile Communications Networks.

The regulation was adopted by the Council of Ministers on December 16, 2017, to reduce the prices paid by ECOWAS citizens for the use of communication services while roaming within communities in the sub-region.

Nonetheless, the objective of the regulation is yet to be achieved.

“It is, therefore, more imperative now than ever to deploy the use of telecommunications and information technology to advance all sectors of one’s economy and, also, promote the development of the sub-region,” he said.

“To achieve regional development through the use of ICT tools, there is the need to address concerns regarding mobile roaming services in the sub-region,” he emphasised.

According to Mr Bagbin, countries in the sub-region are strengthening their collaboration and existing cooperation with International Agencies such as INTERPOL through data collection and data sharing.

He added that the countries were doing the same with the West Africa Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO) to combat cross border crimes and terrorism.

The Speaker of Parliament touches on the theme for the forum

The speaker of parliament also touched on the theme for the meeting: “Telecommunications and Information Technology (TIT) in Achieving Regional Development, Peace and Security and Human Rights.

He noted that the theme reflected the growing recognition of ICT in dealing with modern problems.

ICT services have become an indispensable tool in the development of every facet of society across all sectors.

Indeed, telecommunication plays an increasingly vital role in enabling the participation and development of people in communities and nations disadvantaged by geography.

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He urged ECOWAS leaders to ensure that whilst they strive to inject a lot more technology and ICT into our approaches, they do so by leaving a legacy that the future generation would be proud of.

He summed it up with a quote by Lyndon Baines Johnson, Former President of the United States of America.

“If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them with a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.”

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