The seventh meeting of ECOWAS Ministers in charge of Telecommunications and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) was held recently in Praia, Cape Verde.
The purpose of the meeting was to consider: the status of the transposition of the ICT Supplementary Acts on domestic legislation; validate a series of community texts on cyber crime, e-Commerce, personal data protection and the Legal and regulatory framework within ECOWAS; and to consider, review and make recommendations on the Global Digital Solidarity Fund membership.
From 13th -15th October 2008, experts from the fifteen (15) member countries undertook arduous and productive deliberations on the several issues to be submitted to the ECOWAS ICT Ministers.
The deliberations indicated that initiatives have been taken by Member States to revisit their existing laws in order to make them consistent with the Community texts. However, the countries are at different levels of advancement and the majority is behind schedule. On the other hand, Sierra Leone was commended for being one of the most conforming countries as the National Telecommunications Law notably the Telecommunications Act 2006 is 98% consistent with the provisions and spirit of the ECOWAS Supplementary Acts.
In line with the reservations above and the need to expedite the transposition process, the meeting recommended that the deadline should be extended by one year. The meeting further made the following recommendations: that ECOWAS, in collaboration with development partners, especially ITU, should organise seminars to build the capacities of Sub-regional legal ICT experts in the area of cyber crime control and personal data protection. They also requested that this training seminar should be extended to other stakeholders; and that Member States should be encouraged to organise training sessions at the national level; also ECOWAS should assist Member States to establish cyber crime surveillance centres and determine their composition and function; and that Member States that have not yet acceded or become members of the Global Digital Solidarity Fund should do so without further delay; and that ECOWAS should come up with an operationalisation mechanism in collaboration with the DSF.
Meanwhile, the Ministers took note of the various events announced at the meeting of the experts and recommended that, at its forthcoming meeting, ECOWAS should examine all ICT texts, which were not approved.