Fratel rising to the innovation challenge
As a discipline whose end goal is to achieve a state of equilibrium in the sectors in question, regulation needs to reinvent itself constantly, to attune its instruments to the latest global issues. Today, this includes the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, 5G and possibly even 6G depending on the country, Fintech, especially in African countries, and network convergence.
We believe that Fratel is one of the best forums for tackling these issues, to share experiences in these areas and to address them as part of a collaborative process that takes the maturity of each market into account.
Beyond these aspects, safeguarding sacrosanct principles such as net neutrality provides the bedrock for promoting innovation in a world now dominated by digital platforms. In other words, with the advent of new players that position themselves as the providers of value-added services, more and more, electronic communications regulation is becoming simply digital market regulation. With the current ongoing convergence of networks, no regulator can operate in a vacuum, which is why the need to encourage co-regulation as an alternative mechanism to tackle new issues seems like the obvious way forward.
This regulation needs to be based on the idea of soft law, promoting compliance rather than repression.
On another level, notwithstanding the need to moderate platforms’ content, there must be no watering down of net neutrality as the principle that today undergirds the guaranteed right to information.
We should also remember that, regardless of the system in place in any given country, frequencies today constitute a powerful lever for promoting innovation, provided they are made available to new professions. This is also why, above and beyond the overriding policies proper to each region, FRATEL could emerge as a body that facilitates dialogue between stakeholders, including equipment suppliers, notably about different frequency bands, for instance during WRCs.
It is nevertheless also worth remembering that, while universal, these principles and issues are subject to scrutiny from various quarters, depending on the country and the regulators, taking each nation’s economic situation and standards into account. This is what gives regulation its charm: regardless of the model being used, its ultimate objective remains the same, namely, to achieve a state of balance.
All these conclusions converge upon the need to strengthen bodies like FRATEL that consistently tackle the issues surrounding electronic communications with brio, by hosting forums for dialogue with experts in the field, coupled with joint and accessible reports.
This is why, in my position of Chair of FRATEL for this term of office, a position that I am honoured and delighted to assume, I am calling for a consolidation of what has been achieved since the Federation’s creation, and for a commitment that continues to be fresh and new.
This call leads me to invite all FRATEL members to come out, en masse, to the organisation’s next meeting, which will be taking place in Dakar in November 2021.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the FRATEL members and experts for their commitment and active involvement throughout this term. Special thanks to France’s Regulatory Authority for Electronic communications, Postal affairs and Print media distribution (Arcep) for all of its coordination work, despite the Covid situation, to host online meetings so successfully.
Abdoul LY, Director-General of the Telecommunications and Postal Regulatory Authority (ARTP) of Senegal, Chair of Fratel
► The Post n° 49 - October 2021