On 11 April, the eve of GSMA Mobile 360 Series – West Africa, the GSMA hosted the inaugural Annual Regional Conference for Economic Community of West African States – ECOWAS. The theme of the day was to explore how government, working in partnership with industry, can create an enabling environment for the development and promotion of a digital regional economy.
With delegations from 12 of the 15 Member States (MS) present, our day with ECOWAS was opened by Dr Raphael Koffi, Director of Telecommunications from the ECOWAS Commission of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, and was split into two distinct sessions: the morning focusing on training and the afternoon on digital inclusion and investment.
Introducing the GSMA’s Capacity Building Programme, delegates were given taster sessions from two of the programme’s full training courses: Unlocking Mobile Rural Coverage and Competition Policy. The Capacity Building Programme delivers free training sessions exclusively to regulators and policymakers around the world. The action point from this session was for ECOWAS MS to liaise with the Secretariat regarding the training they felt would be most beneficial.
In the afternoon, we introduced our interim report examining how regulation can encourage investment and innovation, and how a best practice, streamlined framework will benefit digital inclusion and coverage, driving economic benefits for the region as a whole. The action point from this presentation was for MS to complete the project questionnaire so that the report can be finalized and presented to ECOWAS.
AfDB discussed the financing of digital inclusion and how a combination of regulatory modernisation, spectrum management and proper taxation would contribute to optimising the business environment.
The day concluded with a presentation on ECOWAS 2018-2023, Strategy for the Creation of a Common Digital Market followed by case study presentations from Cape Verde, Nigeria and Benin.
A very full day indeed, packed with innovative ideas, knowledge sharing and exchanging best practices. The post-event networking buffet and drinks were most welcome and due to the positive feedback received, future similar events are being planned.