The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has stepped up its campaign for the harmonisation of a roaming network that will include a shared ICT infrastructure with other regional blocs in at least 29 African countries.
The programme is meant to look at policy harmonisation and regulation in order to facilitate cross-border interconnections, strengthen pan-regional competition and competitive tariffs, and expedite the deployment of safe and reliable ICT services.
The EGEE-ICT programme will be implemented in five regional economic blocs in Comesa, East African Community, Inter-governmental Authority for Development, Indian Ocean Commission and the South African Development Authority.
Jean-Baptiste Mutabazi, Director of Infrastructure and Logistics at Comesa says the EGEE-ICT Programme faces a number of hiccups in the continent such as the digital divide, high cost of services, limitations in policy development, high cost of devices and low ICT literacy levels.
“These challenges need to be addressed with urgency so that we are not left behind as a continent in the 4th Industrial revolution and the digital economy”, he says.
Mr Mutabazi believes the right ICT policy initiatives will be a key enabler at both regional and continental levels for ICT and digital growth.
ICT and Digital Economy Principal Secretary John Tanui says the Kenyan government is striving to create an enabling and suitable environment for ICT development to thrive.
“This programme will support the development of ICT regional policy and regulatory frameworks in a harmonised manner to facilitate the establishment of improved access to cost-effective and secure ICT services,” he told Nation.Africa in an interview early this week.
Key areas the EGEE-ICT programme is expected to deliver will include harmonised regional roaming network, e-commerce, open access fibre and infrastructure sharing and universal access.
Stakeholders have noted that the major challenges inhibiting improved access to cost-effective ICT services are uneven and fragmented implementation of policy and the regulatory framework across the continent to promote competitive markets among member states.