ECOWAS Pledges To Improve ICTS

The ECOWAS Parliament’s Joint Committee on Communications and Information, Technology, Education, Science and Technology, Labor, Employment, Sports and Culture has ended its delocalized meeting with a resolution to use ICTs in the integration of members countries and economies.
Speaking at the closing program, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo thanked the Joint Committee for the efforts in holding a successful meeting and emphasized the utilization and incorporation of ICT in the work of the parliament, to raise the visibility of the work, programs and activities of parliament.He thanked the Government and people of Liberia for the warm reception accorded them.
Speaking earlier at the opening ceremony, Speaker Cisse Lo congratulated President George Manneh Weah, who was once a member of the ECOWAS Parliament while serving as senator for his election as President of Liberia.
He added that Weah’s presidency will in no doubt elevate the status of ECOWAS due to his iconic global standing and recognition, and for “his belief in democracy, good governance and the role of law, as well as for his stance on the fight to eliminate poverty and underdevelopment for his people.”
In a remark, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Liberia, House Dr. Bhofal Chambers lauded ECOWAS Parliament for selecting Liberia as a venue for the meeting and pledged the Liberian Parliament’s support towards the implementations of its programs.
He made a repeated plea for more women’s participation at the ECOWAS Parliament but stressed that the process should begin within individual member states.
The delocalized meeting, among other things was geared towards enabling the ECOWAS Parliament to take ownership of the ECOWAS policy in the area of ICTs and its use in the process of regional integration.
It was held under the theme “Contribution of ICTs to the Regional Integration Process – Status of Implementation, challenges and prospects of an ECOWAS Community Radio and Television Station.”
During the deliberations, members of the Joint Committee reiterated the importance and relevance of ICT and radio and television broadcasting as a useful and valuable tool and medium for not only the efficient work of the institutions in ECOWAS, “but as instruments for the furtherance of the vision, mission, actions and programs of integrating our countries, economies and peoples into a peaceful, secure and democratic region, with entrenched values of good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights in our region.”
The Joint Committee acknowledged that newly adopted ECOWAS Radio, formerly UNMIL radio is a useful asset in disseminating information and messages of peace and development in the sub-region.
They however emphasized that this requires the involvement of all stakeholders, including the Parliamentarians, member states and the ECOWAS Commission.
Meanwhile, at the end of the meeting, the Committee made several recommendations that it believes, when fully implemented, will boost the ICTs programs in the subregion.
It called on the ECOWAS Commission to among other things facilitate a more affordable access of landlocked countries to submarine fiber optic cables through a full implementation of the regulation on conditions for landlocked countries with a view to access national and international bandwidth,
Moreover to mobilize the necessary resources for the implementation of the Amilcar Cabral Fiber Optic Cables so that all ECOWAS member states can be connected through the regional fiber-optic network and to promote the establishment of Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT) in all ECOWAS Member States and to facilitate the creation of a safer cyber environment in West Africa.
The committee also wants the Commission to assist on the domestication and transposition of Community “Texts on ICT and the Directive on Fighting against Cybercrime.
The resolution also called for the implementation of the Supplementary Act on Electronic Transactions and the Supplementary Act on Personal Data Protection and called the ECOWAS Commission and member states to take the necessary measures in order to fully implement the free regional roaming regulation, as approved by the Council of Ministers in December, 2017 in Abuja.
In addition, the Joint Committee called on member states to develop national legislations in fighting cybercrimes in all ECOWAS member States, to develop National Cybersecurity Strategies in all ECOWAS Member States, implement effectively the elimination of roaming charges as in our member countries., and to abolished termination charges being levied by some countries in the region.
It called on member states to support the ECOWAS regional radio by allowing the radio to use transmission facilities of national radios for broadcasting and rebroadcasting of its programs.
It also wants national radios to assist the regional radio in areas of content development, joint programming, language services, capacity building and other logistics support.
Also, during the deliberations, the Joint Committee on Communications and Information, Technology, Education, Science and Technology, Labor, Employment, Sports and Culture recommended to the ECOWAS Parliament to partner with the ECOWAS Commission in all the phases of the development and implementation of the ICT policies and programs by engaging with potential partners for collaboration to develop the use of ICT by ECOWAS and its Institutions in furtherance of the regional integration.
The committee called on ECOWAS Parliament to fully participate in the forthcoming expert meetings and Council of Ministers meeting on the ECOWAS Regional Radio project and called for parliament to be on the governing board of the regional radio as representatives of the people, adding that their presence will ensure the station focuses on programs and activities that directly benefit the people.
It further recommended the leadership of the ECOWAS Parliament to use its relationship and contacts with some of the Heads of States to solicit support and assistance for the Radio, asserting that the urgent requirement of the station is to be connected to the national electricity grid in Liberia to reduce its dependence on use of generators and gas; and as such called on the leadership of the Parliament to asked their former colleague, President George Manneh Weah to make this happen
According to a press statement, the meeting was held from August 21 to 31, 2018 at a local resort in Monrovia. The opening ceremony was graced by leaders of the ECOWAS Parliament and Liberian Government officials including Vice-president Jewel Howard Taylor, Moustapha Cissé Lo, Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Dr. Bhofal Chambers, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Senator Prince Y. Johnson, Third Deputy Speaker of ECOWAS, Amb. Tunde O. Ajisomo Special Representative of the President of ECOWAS Commission to Liberia and former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

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