Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami has charged the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) with ensuring that the development of a seamless telecommunications network and infrastructure across West Africa is expedited.
Pantami stated this in his opening remarks at the 18th Annual General Meeting of the Assembly holding in Abuja, today, Wednesday, 10th March 2021.
Pantami noted that the objectives of WATRA can be achieved through the formulation and implementation of sound regulatory policies, programmes and initiatives that will leverage the impressive growth of the sector, especially the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector.
“It is noteworthy that the Nigerian telecommunications sector grew by 15.9% in 2020 from 11.41% in 2019 and 11.33% in 2018, thereby recording the highest growth rate in the last 10 years”.
This unprecedented development Pantami noted, “is attributed to the development and implementation of policies and strategies for the Nigerian Digital Economy Sector, one of which is the Nigerian National Broadband Plan, which is aimed at the significant reduction of access gaps through the expansion of broadband in the country”.
The country’s current broadband penetration rate stands at 45.07% as against about 33% at the commencement of the plan.
Established in November 2004 with headquarters in Abuja, WATRA has become an important regional organisation within the African and global telecommunications ecosystem, with current membership consisting of independent National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) across 16 countries including Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire.
Others include, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
As a regional telecoms organisation, WATRA is a consultative and collaborative body of Telecommunications Regulators in the West African sub-region to aid and advance development of telecommunications in the sub region and ultimately in Africa.
The Assembly also collaborates and cooperates with other regional and international organisations towards the attainment of its mission to ensure the rapid development of telecommunications in the sub region.