Experts Review Proposals of Strengthening Regional ICT Associations

A technical working group under the Enhancement of Governance and Enabling Environment in Information and Communication Technology (EGEE-ICTs) programme is meeting in Kigali, Rwanda for a two-day validation workshop to review a study from a consultant on how they could provide assistance to the Regional ICT sector Associations.

The experts from COMESA, SADC, EAC, IGAD and IOC have been joined by representatives from Regional ICT Associations (RICTAS) to review recommendations on the development of institutional strategies and business/membership models that would sustain their role of ensuring coordinated public and private sector policy and regulatory engagement and development.

Funded by the European Union Development Fund (EDF11), the EGEE-ICT aims at supporting the effective review and or development of various regional policy and regulatory frameworks in a harmonized manner that will contribute to enhancing competition, improved access to cost effective and secure ICT services in the East African-Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region.

To kick start the process, COMESA as the lead Regional Economic Community (REC) engaged Prof. Thomas Senaji from Kenya to carry out the consultancy services of the programme.

The specific objectives of the consultancy entailed conducting an assessment and providing an overview and analysis of the capacity, strengths and weaknesses across the ICT sector Associations and identify the main capacity gaps and demands. Develop strategies, action plans and business models for the ICT Sector Associations and facilitate capacity building programes for enhancing the operations of the associations.

Speaking when he officially opened the workshop on Wednesday 16 November 2022, Public Sector Digitization Analyst in Rwanda’s Ministry of Transformation, ICT and Innovation Mr Angelos Munezero commended the collaboration of the RECs for working together and building strong meaningful partnerships to create synergies which will positively impact the people.

“Indeed having COMESA, SADC, EAC, IGAD and IOC under the EGEE-ICT programme working together is a step in the right direction to achieve ICT regional integration,” he said.

He added that Rwanda acknowledges the EGEE-ICT programme, as a vital initiative that will ensure growth and development of ICT and Telecommunications in the region.

The workshop was informed that the Government of Rwanda has deliberately invested in digital transformation to change people’s lives. By the end of September 2022, Rwanda had mobile telephone subscription at 82.5%, internet subscription at 60.6 % and about 80% of the most impactful services are provided online through Irembo platform.

Addressing the delegates, Telecommunications Officer at COMESA Secretariat Mr Leonard Chitundu said RICTAS play a vital role in the development of the ICT sector in the region.

“Together, they provide invaluable forums for sharing knowledge and experiences on regulatory practices, supporting the implementation of ICT policies and regulations, and sharing perspectives and experiences on institutional strategies and business models for ICT operators,” he added.

Hence, a consultant was engaged to conduct the assessment and thereafter develop strategies, action plans and business models and identify training or capacity building activities required to enhance the operations of the RICTAs.

The consultant, through desk research and consultations, gathered data and information on the status each of the five RICTAs in the region, namely Association of Regulators of Information and Communications for Eastern and Southern Africa (ARICEA); Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) East African Communications Organization (EACO) Southern Africa Postal Operators Association (SAPOA) and  Southern Africa Telecommunications Association (SATA).