Paris, 12 July 2002
The first Symposium of francophone telecommunication regulators was held in Paris at the UNESCO headquarters on 25 and 26 June, on the invitation of Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART).
Over 80 participants attended, representing 29 countries and several international organisations, including the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Agence intergouvernementale de la Francophonie, the World Bank and the European Commission.
To date, 24 of the 52 member countries of the francophone space have formed a regulatory body identified as such. Others, such as Lebanon and Gabon, are in the process.
Since its creation, on 1st January 1997, ART has established numerous relations with its francophone counterparts. These many exchanges have highlighted the need to develop cooperation based on a mutual understanding of missions and professions, and on a concrete analysis of the realities facing each regulator.
· The work of the Symposium
Sharing values based on the construction of an Information Society for all, and on the role played by regulation, the participants exchanged information and experiences on topics dealing with their goals and concerns, methods and the organisation of the regulation of the telecommunication sector.
The Symposium highlighted a number of points in common, but also showed up the diversity of national regulatory methods, emphasizing the elements which make each country unique in its perception and implementation of regulation.
Indeed, ART chairman, Jean-Michel Hubert observed that francophony is "a veritable laboratory of regulatory diversity".
"While there may be elements shared by all regulatory action in the countries of the francophone space, I cannot consider there to be a single regulation model.
In particular, it is not up to us to recommend or impose any solution we may have developed over the years, but rather to explain and share why we have organised ourselves as we have, and why, in France, our Parliament has chosen to apply the principles which mark regulations (NB : "réglementation", in French) and regulation (NB : régulation" in French), how we implement this regulation, and why, in our current situation, we have made these choices.
I think the most important thing in this discussion is to help our counterparts to understand the reasons for the analysis we are conducting, and if they wish-and only if they wish-they may apply what is useful to them based on their own unique institutional, economic, geographic and demographic circumstances and on their degree of telecommunication development.
We're here to offer options, but ultimately, our partners make the choices, according to the situation and point in time in which they find themselves."
Pierre-André Wiltzer, delegate minister for Cooperation and Francophony, closed the seminar with the following statement : "what is at stake with the existence of this francophone community in the information society, in this space, this ensemble, is the protection and promotion of a number of our cultural values; above all, this means that we celebrate the diversity of each of our respective traditions and defend them against any attempt at political or cultural hegemony".
· The goal: to set up a cooperation framework
The Symposium provided the opportunity for in-depth discussions on how a cooperation framework could be established in order to encourage exchanges between regulators in the francophone space.
In the Symposium's final declaration, the participants agreed to create a "Network" to develop regulation in the francophone space.
The goal is to provide cooperation opportunities which could include document and expert exchanges, forums, internships, joint studies, comparative analyses or even common stands at international meetings.
Representatives from ART (France), the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Council (CRTC / Canada) and the Comité de Régulation des Télécommunications (CRT / Mali), will make proposals for the creation of this Network by the end of 2002. Autorité de régulation des télécommunications chairman, Jean-Michel Hubert, was chosen to chair the Network.
Last, the principle of an annual Symposium was approved.
The final declaration , speeches and a number of videotaped interviews