The West Africa Telecommunication Regulators Assembly (WATRA) was established in November 2004. Its current membership is fifteen (15) countries with headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria. WATRA consists of independent National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and departments for regulation of Telecommunications services established by governments of member states in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region and Mauritania.
WATRA comprises of there (3) institutions namely: The Conference of Regulator, The Executive Committee and The Secretariat. The Secretariat is the Administrative organ of WATRA.
Emerging and current trends in technology development in the telecommunications industry typified by convergence and the rapid development of digital technology have continued to call for innovative and pragmatic regulatory models, a departure from traditional regulations.
WATRA was born out of the need to address present realities in the telecommunications industry in the sub-region while focusing on the need for West Africa to evolve a harmonised regulatory identity to boost investment and investor-confidence and to more effectively regulate and monitor telecommunications service.
1.2 WATRA’S Role
WATRA’s primary aim is to foster liberalisation and completion through the establishment of modern legal and regulatory structures for telecommunications delivery in West Africa towards a common, virile common telecommunications markets.
1.3 WATRA’s Mission
To promote rapid and even development of telecommunications in West Africa towards attaining globally competitive standards while facilitating accelerated development of telecommunications infrastructure and provision of services at affordable rates in the sub-region and encourage standardisation and harmonisation of policy, legal and regulatory framework.
1.4 WATRA’s Vision
An ICT enable sub-region with telecommunications service delivery of international standards available to all at affordable price.
1.5 WATRA’s Objectives
The objectives of WATRA are as follows:
• To encourage the establishment of modern legal and regulatory structures for telecommunications service delivery in all States in the sub-region; and to encourage the separation of the roles of policy-maker, regulator and licensed operator/service provider, and the establishment of distinct, independent and adequately empowered National telecommunications regulatory agencies in countries in the sub-region where such agencies have not been created;
• To seek the development and harmonization of regulations for telecommunications service delivery and pricing in countries in the sub-region;
• To promote the establishment and operation of efficient, adequate, and cost-effective telecommunications networks and services in the West African sub-region which meet the diverse needs of customers while being economically sustainable;
• To encourage increased liberalization and competition initiatives in networks development and to enhance efficiency in telecommunications service delivery in the sub-region;
• To contribute to the development of policies to enhance universal access and telecommunication penetration in rural and under-served areas in the sub-region;
• To facilitate the exchange of ideas, views and experiences among members on all aspects of regulation of the telecommunications sector;
• To conceptualize and formulate for eventual recommendation to policy makers in the sub-region, an information and communications technology master-plan which will set policy objectives and milestones for the modernization of telecommunications infrastructures and service delivery in the sub-region;
• To contribute, through the progressive integration of regulatory mechanisms, towards sub-regional market integration in the telecommunications sector, leading eventually to integration of the continental African market;
• To work towards the attainment of a uniform telecommunications service standard in the sub-region, and the adoption of uniform technical and quality standards for telecommunication applications and equipment employed in the sub-region;
• To contribute to human resource and capacity building efforts aimed at redressing the shortage of indigenous skills, competencies and capabilities in emerging information and communications technologies in the sub-region;
• To collaborate and co-operate with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) towards the attainment of its treaty objectives of sub-regional economic and social integration, as envisaged in the ECOWAS Treaty of 1975, especially in Chapter VIII of the Treaty, with particular reference to Articles 40 and 45 thereof, and in various ECOWAS protocols;
• To collaborate and co-operate with the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) towards the attainment of its stated mission of promoting rapid development of info-communications in Africa to achieve universal access to basic telecommunications and full inter-country connectivity in Africa; and the fulfilment of its objectives, especially the objective of promoting the development and adoption of appropriate African telecommunications policy and regulatory frameworks.;
• To collaborate and co-operate with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) towards the attainment of its agenda for global telecommunications development, especially with respect to its initiatives for the development of regional and sub-regional structures for more effective telecommunications service delivery;
• To collaborate and co-operate with any other regional or international body or institution whose objectives or activities may facilitate or enhance the attainment of WATRA’s aims and objectives.