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ATU Calls Out African Regulators, Service Providers Over Coronavirus Pandemic

African Telecommunications Union (ATU) has called for harmonised action by telecommunications regulators and operators in Africa to combat Coronavirus Pandemic through the implementation of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), among other measures to enable authorities to effectively prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

ATU, a specialised agency of the African Union in the field of telecommunications, has put together a set of guidelines to assist in combating the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which every Member State should consider.

However, Heads of States and Governments across the continent are taking no chances as they race to stop the spread of the virus by sensitizing their citizens about the pandemic and the various ways to combat the disease.

Globally, ICTs have become a pillar in the prevention, preparedness and response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ATU, through the Secretary-General, Mr. John Omo, urged the Ministries of ICT, through the telecommunications regulators and operators in the Member States, to consider implementing the following recommendations and guidelines to fight COVID-19 pandemic.

These include activation of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) which will make it possible for members of the public to receive CAP-originated information in many ways, such as through mobile and landline telephones, Internet via e-mail, Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, smartphone apps, online advertising, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, in-home smart speakers, among others.

He also called on regulators to adopt collaborative measures that will include free dedicated network capacity; Emergency Numbers for voice and SMS; guidelines for action during emergencies and amateur radio operators and simplification of type-approval processes.

Other measures, he added should include, Streamlined Regulation Processes that will engender Telecom/ICT services licensing; frequency allocation; priority call routing; network redundancy and ease in importation of telecom/ICT equipment.

Furthermore, the ATU called for coordinated efforts during this period and clearly defined functions for different government institutions, such as Ministries of Foreign Affairs, ICT and Communications, customs, regulatory agencies and first responders which include hospitals among others. The collaboration should also extend to the private sector, including telecom/ICT operators, private networks, and amateur radio among others to give support and insights to the government on the collection of data and dissemination of information to the public. Regulators should, therefore, carry out a set of activities and procedures to connect all actors in the ecosystem at the local, national and international levels and ensure effective flow of information as the continent fights Covid-19.

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