Telecom: WAEMU Experts Meet to Discuss AI, Tariffs and the Sector’s Future in Lomé

Tuesday, 01 August 2023 16:06
Telecom: WAEMU Experts Meet to Discuss AI, Tariffs and the Sector’s Future in Lomé

(Togo First) - Lomé hosted last week the 14th meeting of the Committee of National Telecommunications Regulators from WAEMU Member States (CRTEL). The event gathered experts from the eight countries to discuss the major challenges facing the sector.

Three topics dominated the talks: how to further reduce regional communication rates, ensure better quality of service, and incorporate the advancements of artificial intelligence in regulation.

According to Togo’s telecom watchdog, the ARCEP, over the past two years, communication tariffs have been reduced in Togo. Reportedly, mobile and fixed internet rates fell respectively by 67% and 64%, on average.

Nevertheless, the quality of service remains a critical issue. In this regard, regulations at various levels seem to be banking on technology. This is the case for ARCEP-Togo, which started using digital tools like "MyPerf by ARCEP" and supervision platforms that integrate AI.

While AI use in telecommunications is still in its infancy in West Africa, the recent meeting in Lomé testifies to a shared desire to dive deeper into this area. However, using AI raises various concerns. Some of these include the implications of the technology, relative to regulation, data protection, and job creation, among others.

WAEMU experts, aware of the stakes, agreed on the need for close collaboration to meet these challenges. Their work is just beginning, and the decisions taken in Lomé could well shape the future of telecommunications throughout the region, according to the report of the CRTEL meeting.

One clear thing is that WAEMU aspires to a deep digital transformation, as evidenced by the Togo Digital 2025 plan and other similar plans in other Union countries. This vision needs appropriate regulation, innovation and regional cooperation to come through. So far, however, concrete steps to contribute to this goal are few.

Fiacre E. Kakpo

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