The Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, has tasked the ECOWAS Parliament to address concerns regarding mobile roaming services in the sub-region in order to achieve regional development through the use of Telecommunication and Information Technology (TIT) tools. He made this assertion at the opening session of the delocalised meeting of the Joint Committee on Political Affairs, Peace, Security and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Legal Affairs and Human Rights and Telecommunications and Information Technology of the ECOWAS Parliament, holding at Winneba, Ghana, from 27 – 30 July, 2021.
Hon. Bagbin posited that the sub-region can advance regional development by ensuring that the Regulation on Roaming on Public Mobile Communications Networks in the ECOWAS Space, which was adopted by the Council of Ministers on 16th December 2017 is implemented. Furthermore, the Honouable Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament strongly observed that most of the ECOWAS nationals who travel to other countries in the sub-region have to pay higher premiums on mobile usage, while others have to change their sim cards to have access to the network available in their new destination. Reinforcing his position, he revealed that, “according to the World Bank report 2018, there are over 320 million mobile subscribers in the Sub-region. However, the uptake of mobile data in the sub-region remains a serious challenge”.
On the theme for the meeting, which is the role of “Telecommunications and Information Technology (TIT) in Achieving Regional Development, Peace and Security and Human Rights’’, he noted that “it reflects the growing recognition of the importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in dealing with the myriad of problems we face in our Sub-region”, adding that “in recent times, ICT services have become an indispensable tool in the development of every facet of our society, whether in the Health, Education, Agriculture, or Trade and Industry sectors”.
While noting that, the Sub-region is confronted with various challenges such as drug trafficking, child trafficking, proliferation of and trafficking in small arms, organised crime, money laundering, terrorism, cybercrime and the insecurity in the maritime space in the Gulf of Guinea, he reaffirmed the need to pay urgent attention to the search for the solutions to these menaces so that the people of the subregion are not made to lead a difficult life. For him, there is a great deal of advantage in the telecommunications and information technology sectors, “Indeed, telecommunication plays an increasingly vital role in enabling the participation and development of people in communities and nations disadvantaged by geography, whether in rural areas of developing nations or in the global society and economy”, he noted.