telecom

Telecom Regulators to Combat e-Fraud, Standardise Regional Roaming Tariffs

November 4, 2021

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other telecoms regulators under the auspices of West African Telecoms Regulators Assembly (WATRA), are set to develop technical and regulatory modalities, aimed at combating rising wave of electronic frauds, and standardising regional roaming tariffs in the sub-region.

This was disclosed at a two-day meeting organised by WATRA in collaboration with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), which in Abuja.

The meeting, which was attended by representatives of telecoms regulators from countries across West Africa, provided a platform for key participants and stakeholders to deliberate on building a unified market in telecommunications services in West Africa, to combat roaming and cyber-related frauds, and achieve the standardisation of roaming tariffs among ECOWAS member-states.

Addressing stakeholders at the meeting, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who is also the Chairman of WATRA, underscored the centrality of the meeting by emphasising that, as businesses move online, the fraudsters are also going digital.
Danbatta, who was represented by NCC’s Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Bako Wakil, said, based on this fact and in order to give West African citizens and businesses the confidence to fully take advantage of the enormous benefits of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), there was a need for regulators to tame and outpace the fraudsters.

“About 75 per cent of trade within ECOWAS is informal, and thus poorly recorded. Therefore, digitising this trade through employing many forms of electronic payments is a significant step towards formalising, governing and boosting intra-ECOWAS trade activities. Our ambitions are to formalise informal trade, including agricultural commodities as well as boosting intra-regional trade and this requires us to improve collaboration on combating electronic fraud,” Danbatta said.

Danbatta informed the delegates to the forum that electronic fraud was not just an African or a West African issue, but a global phenomenon. He cited studies that revealed 54 per cent of consumers in the European Union said they were most likely to come across misleading/deceptive or fraudulent advertisements or offers on the Internet.
On the regional roaming service, the WATRA Chairman said the Assembly has the vision of a ‘Digital ECOWAS’ where improved sub-regional roaming regulation could help to facilitate an economic integration in the region.

In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of WATRA, Aliyu Aboki, emphasised the value of a trusted digital economy to any nation. He cited a study by Accenture, which concludes that “a trusted digital economy would stimulate 2.8 per cent additional growth for major firms, with the new transactions generated totaling $5.2 trillion of value creation in the economy,” hence, the establishment and operationalisation of national and regional anti-fraud committee.

Speaking at the forum, the Acting Director, Digital Economy and Post, ECOWAS, Dr. Raphael Koffi, noted that while e-fraud in the provision of communication services had always been an issue being collectively tackled, variance in termination rates agreed in commercial roaming agreements has also constituted an obstacle to harmonization of roaming tariffs which, he said, collaboration between WATRA and ECOWAS is set to achieve.

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