ECOWAS consults stakeholders in Sierra Leone on the draft new legal and regulatory framework to govern the digital economy in West Africa  

Working session

STAKEHOLDERS in the digital economy ecosystem in Sierra Leone met in Freetown, Sierra Leone from 22nd to 24th November 2022 for a national consultation on the draft new legal and regulatory framework to govern the digital economy in West Africa.

The objective of the meeting, co-organised by the ECOWAS Commission and the Ministry of Information and Communications of Sierra Leone, was to solicit contributions and feedback on the draft regional regulatory framework for the digital economy being developed by the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions.  

At the opening of the meeting, Mawuli Amoa, Program Officer for Telecommunications and Networks highlighted how the digital economy sector is characterized by a fast pace of innovation and continuous enhancement of existing service offerings.

He stated that the objective of ECOWAS in ICT is the establishment of a well-secured common digital market, and to achieve this objective, the policies and regulations governing the market need to be harmonised across the region.  

He further stated that the approach to regulation of the digital economy in the current era should be collaborative and inclusive, with the involvement of policy makers and regulators in adjacent sector to foster the growth and development of digital services under a fair and enabling environment whiles at the same time protecting the interests of consumers.

It is for this reason, he said, that the ECOWAS Commission is undertaking the project for the elaboration of a new harmonised legal and regulatory framework to govern the development of digital economy sector in West Africa, which will address the emerging issues in the sector.  

In his welcoming remarks, the Minister for Information and Communications of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, reiterated the commitment of the Government of Sierra Leone to the development of the digital economy sector in Sierra Leone and the promotion of digital inclusion for all citizens.  In demonstration of this commitment, Sierra Leone has concluded the domestication of all ECOWAS legal texts in the sector.  

He expressed gratitude to the ECOWAS Commission over the years for its support to the Government’s initiatives in the sector, notably with the enhancement of the country’s cybersecurity capacity, development of cyber security and cybercrime law and capacity building of judiciary and law enforcement official in cybercrime.

He thanked the Commission for supporting the organisation of the meeting in Sierra Leone and commended the initiative of wider consultations with stakeholders in the project’s execution, an approach which he said is in line with the Government’s own consultative approach for policy and regulatory formulation in the digital economy sector. He urged participants to effectively be the voice of the people of Sierra Leone in exercising their responsibility as stakeholders in the consultation exercise.  

Participation in the consultation was drawn from the Ministry of Information and Communications, the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), National Revenue Authority, National Cybersecurity Coordination Unit, Sierra Leone Postal Services, the Universal Access Development Fund, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and the Central Bank. Representatives from mobile network operators, Internet Service providers and commercial banks also participated.  

It should be recalled that the ECOWAS Commission has recently conducted national consultations on the draft legal and regulatory framework for the digital economy in Liberia and The Gambia.

The feedback from the national consultation exercises in Member States will be consolidated and incorporated in an updated draft which will be presented to the ECOWAS Ministers in charge of Telecommunications/ICT/Digitalisation for their approval, prior to submission to the relevant statutory organ of ECOWAS for its adoption.  

A.I