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NCC, other regional telecoms regulators to combat e-frauds, standardise roaming tariffs

A Group Photo of Participants in WATRA Stakeholders' Meeting in Abuja, FCT Photo: NCC

*The West African Telecoms Regulators Assembly (WATRA) at a forum in Abuja, Nigeria, offers a platform for key stakeholders to discuss a unified market in telecommunications services, combat roaming and cyber-related frauds towards standardisation of roaming tariffs among ECOWAS member-states

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In a move to combat the upsurge in electronic frauds (e-frauds) and standardise roaming tariffs in the sub-region, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other telecommunications regulators, under the auspices of West African Telecoms Regulators Assembly (WATRA), are set to develop technical and regulatory modalities to achieve this objective.




The telecoms regulatpory Commission in the country stated this was the crux of a two-day meeting organised by WATRA, in collaboration with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS)

ConsumerConnect reports the the regional telecoms regulators began Tuesday, October 26, at Rockview Hotel, in Abuja, FCT.

Engr. Bako Wakil, Director of Technical Standards and Network Integrity of the Commission, representing Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of NCC, who is Chairman of WATRA

Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, in a statement issued Wednesday, October 27, 2021, disclosed the meeting, attended by representatives of telecoms regulators from countries across West Africa, provided a platform for key participants and stakeholders to deliberate on building a unified market in telecommunications services in West Africa, to combat roaming and cyber-related frauds, and achieve the standardisation of roaming tariffs among ECOWAS member-states.

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Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, who is also Chairman of WATRA, in his address at the stakeholders’ meeting, underscored the centrality of the meeting when he emphasised that as businesses move online, the fraudsters are also going digital.

The NCC EVC/CEO, represented by Engr. Bako Wakil, Director of Technical Standards and Network Integrity of the Commission, noted said based on this fact and in order to give West African consumers and businesses the confidence to fully take advantage of the enormous benefits of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), there was a need for regulators to tame and outpace the fraudsters.

Danbatta stated: “About 75 per cent of trade within ECOWAS is informal, and thus poorly recorded.

“Therefore, digitising this trade through employing many forms of electronic payments is a significant step towards formalising, governing and boosting intra-ECOWAS trade activities.

“Our ambitions are to formalise informal trade, including agricultural commodities as well as boosting intra-regional trade and this requires us to improve collaboration on combating electronic fraud.”

He further informed the delegates to the forum that electronic fraud is not just an African or a West African issue but a global phenomenon.

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Danbatta cited studies that revealed 54 percent of consumers in the European Union (EU) said they were most likely to come across misleading/deceptive or fraudulent advertisements or offers on the Internet.

As regards the regional roaming service, the WATRA Chairman explaned the Assembly has the vision of a ‘Digital ECOWAS’ where improved sub-regional roaming regulation can help to facilitate an economic integration in the region.

He further said: “Our citizens, traders and companies will trade better when they can use their telephones to call contacts in other ECOWAS countries and when they can use their data subscriptions at no extra cost while travelling or doing business within the region. “So, reducing and eventually eliminating the cost of roaming will also be a very significant contribution towards boosting trade within the region.”

The NCC Chief also expressed satisfaction at the level of collaboration among national regulatory authorities in the sub-region on the one hand; and between WATRA and ECOWAS, to achieve a common goal, on the other hand.

A cross-section of participants at the forum

He described such synergy as a great indicator of progress and internalisation of best global practices.

“I am very pleased to see the excellent collaboration and the sharing of workload between the telecommunications body and personnel within ECOWAS and WATRA.

“Their roles have become complementary and mutually reinforcing-policies legislative frameworks that have been designed at the ECOWAS level, while WATRA does the follow-up work of information-sharing, dialogue and learning dispersal amongst regulatory authorities. It is indeed becoming a well-articulated symphony,” Danbatta noted.

Earlier in his welcome address, Aliyu Aboki, Executive Secretary of WATRA, also emphasised the value of a trusted digital economy to any country.

Aboki cited a study by Accenture, which concluded that “a trusted digital economy would stimulate 2.8 percent additional growth for major firms, with the new transactions generated totalling $5.2 trillion of value creation in the economy”; hence, the establishment and operationalisation of national and regional anti-fraud committee.

The WATRA Executive Secretary commended ECOWAS on “allowing this regional sharing of the enormous task of building Digital ECOWAS to work very well through WATRA, which is a regional manifestation of this collaborative structure.”

According to him, WATRA as a mechanism for regional regulatory collaboration, will work in unison, execute its vision speedily, and ensure that no country in the region is left behind in this regard.

In the same vein, Dr. Raphael Koffi, Acting Director of Digital Economy and Post at ECOWAS, said while e-fraud in the provision of communication services has always been an issue being collectively tackled, variance in termination rates agreed in commercial roaming agreements has also constituted an obstacle to harmonisation of roaming tariffs which, he said, collaboration between WATRA and ECOWAS is set to achieve.

The forum updated the participants on the status of the implementation of the Removal of Surcharges on International Traffic (SIIT) on ECOWAS countries; and establishment of a uniform tariff cap for roaming call termination in the ECOWAS region, among others.

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