Regulation in times of pandemic and lessons for the future: African responses – West Africa
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected different countries at different paces, forcing industry players and regulators, along with governments, to take action to support national strategies aimed at guaranteeing continuity of essential services, protecting lives and reducing the negative impact on the economy.
Regulators have taken a number of steps so that the continuity of services can be guaranteed – how might these actions inform and facilitate future modernisation of current regulatory frameworks? Will industry obligations continue? What does the ‘new normal’ look like from a policy, regulatory and commercial perspective?
Continuing this series of regional discussions, regulators and industry policy makers from Western Africa will discuss the initiatives taken in response to the pandemic, particularly relating to spectrum availability, digital infrastructure, health & education services, cybersecurity, and combating disinformation. They will highlight the unique challenges across the continent and also innovative responses – particularly involving mobile technology – developed in Africa for Africa.
We very much welcome questions from the audience after the panel have finished speaking, but due to the expected number of participants these are limited to a maximum of two per delegate and must be submitted in advance by email. Please send questions to Shermin Ali by 10am GMT Tuesday 10 November.
George Sarpong heads the independent National Media Commission established under Ghana’s constitution to ensure free, responsible and pluralistic media. In this role, he leads efforts to set and monitor media professional standards and coordinates processes for the recruitment and appointment of Chief Executives and Governing Boards of the state-owned media in order to insulate them from governmental control. George additionally manages the Commission’s complaints and settlement process.
Trained originally as a lawyer and a journalist, Mr Sarpong’s expertise spans the broad fields of communications law, policy and regulation; development statistics; peace building and governance legislative drafting. He took part in writing a number of critical governance legislations in Ghana including most recently the Local Governance Act, (Act 963).
Mr Sarpong has taught part-time at the University of Ghana School of Communication Studies, Accra Technical University and the Ghana Institute of Journalism. He has also served on the boards of the National Communications Authority and the Allied Health Regulatory Council.
Mr Sarpong is a Reagan-Fascell Fellow of the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington DC.
Professor Umar Garba Danbatta is Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Agency charged with the responsibility of regulating telecommunications in Nigeria. He was the Vice President of the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), International Centre for Advance Communications Studies, established in 2004 by the NCCto build capacity for the Nigerian/Africa telecom industry in information and communications technology. While at DBI he developed expertise in the following major areas of ICT: implementation, policy and regulation.
Professor Danbatta served as a lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Technology of Bayero University Kano for 28 years, where he taught courses in telecommunications engineering and electronics and held academic positions of Dean of the Faculty and Head of Department at different times. He was also a member of over 60 University committees and task forces, including numerous stints as Chairman. In administrative and other responsibilities outside the university, he has served on over 20 committees, prominent among which was his Chairmanship of the Implementation Committee on Kano State University of Science & Technology, after which he became its pioneer Deputy and Acting Vice-Chancellor when it took off in 2001.
Professor Danbatta has to his credit more than 50 articles in journals, conference proceedings and technical reports. He is also the author of a book entitled ‘Elements of Static Engineering Electromagnetics’. A recipient of 18 distinguished awards and certificates of honour, Professor Danbatta has served two terms as a Member of Council of the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), and is also a COREN Registered Engineer and a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers. (NSE).
Prof Danbatta obtained his BEng, MSc degrees from the technical University of Wroclaw in Poland and his PhD from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) UK respectively.
Russell Southwood is the CEO of Balancing Act, a consultancy and research organization specializing in telecoms, Internet and media in Africa. Its clients include operators, investors and agencies doing policy and regulatory work. Most recently he was part of a World Bank team looking at the regulation of OTT and the digital economy in Africa and the Middle East. He is also author of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Digital Landscape and its Top 11 Markets – data prices, smartphones, digital content and services and e-commerce.
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