Guinea Takes Over WATRA Leadership from Nigeria

April 6, 2022

By Adedapo Adesanya

After one year of piloting its affairs, Nigeria has handed over the mantle of leadership of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) to the Republic of Guinea.

Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr Umar Danbatta, who headed the group, handed over to the newly elected Chairman, Sekou Oumar Barry.

The handover ceremony was one of the major highlights of the 19th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of WATRA which took place in Conakry, the Republic of Guinea, where WATRA’s new Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2022-2024 was approved.

Mr Barry, the new chairman, who will preside over the affairs of the Executive Council of WATRA for the next one year, is the Director-General of the Telecommunication and Posts Regulatory Authority (ARPT) of the Republic of Guinea.

The Assembly also elected the representatives of Mali and Sierra-Leone as 1st and 2nd Vice Chairmen respectively.

In his address at the event, Mr Danbatta acknowledged the important role WATRA has been playing in creating policy, legal and regulatory frameworks for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the sub-region since the mid-1990s and commended the synergy among member states, which he noted has continued to provide an economic defence for member countries against global shocks, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Danbatta said some of his achievements as WATRA Chairman included the delivery of a four-year strategic plan draft in line with the 18th AGM resolution, partial payment of long-outstanding membership dues by some member states after long periods of inactivity, deployment of the new WATRA automated Asset Management System, successful organization of various high-quality capacity building programs for members, optimization of WATRA accounting, finance, and budgeting process, as well as the institution of procedures for improved accountability, marked by a weekly financial dashboard.

The achievements recorded under Mr Danbatta’s one-year chairmanship also included the deployment of an automatic external phone answer and routing system, completion of front-end and back-end development of the redesigned WATRA website, joint development by WATRA, the Coordination Team, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission of a new organizational framework for roaming regulation implementation, reactivation of Niger participation in ECOWAS roaming regulation implementation through WATRA-ECOWAS Commission collaboration.

While congratulating Mr Barry, he expressed the conviction that the new leadership will build on the modest achievements of the last one year.

“When members see the unique role that WATRA plays in easing the task of national regulators to adopt or fine-tune regulations through mutual learning and capacity building, they see more reason to engage and be active within WATRA. So, if we build on the modest achievements of the Assembly, the benefits will be with the region for decades,” he said.

He also stated that both at home or in the Diaspora, West Africa has the talent to study the most efficient ICT regulations in the world and adapt them for the region’s purposes so that it can attract greater investment into the region and transform the economy of member states.

“As I hand over to the incoming Chairman, please be assured of my continued support and that of the Nigerian Communications Commission and, indeed, the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to WATRA,” he said.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Barry, who thanked Mr Danbatta for making giant strides in the last 12 months, promised to work with the Executive Committee team and the Management Team to consolidate the achievements of the Assembly, and to ensure greater success of the Assembly for the future.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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