By Binta Jaiteh
The Gambia Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) and the Senegalese Telecommunications Service Provider recently held a 3-day bilateral meeting on Cross Border Coordination of radio communication and GSM frequencies.
The meeting was held at the African Princess Hotel in Kololi, The Gambia.
The meeting was brought under the theme: “Coordination for Effective Communication.”
The Bilateral Coordination Meeting is sanctioned by the regulators (The Gambia Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) and Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications et des Postes (ARTP) of Senegal for Telecommunication Operators in the border countries such as the Gambian and Senegalese operators to negotiate equitable preferential Broadcast Control Channel (BCCH) and Traffic Control Channel (TCH) frequencies to minimize harmful interference along border areas.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, the Director General of PURA Yusupha M. Jobe said The Gambia and Senegal are members of the International Telecommunications Union (ITC), Africa Telecommunications Union (ATU), and ECOWAS, and the ITU recommends its members and neighbors to meet periodically to not only coordinate but harmonies the spectrum resources to ensure efficient delivery of interference-free service to customers, especially border areas.
He noted that the workshop availed opportunities for operators between The Gambia and Senegal to network, share experiences, identify successes and or challenges and chart a way forward for closer collaboration in the future to improve the quality of service delivery to their esteemed customers.
Mr. Jobe further stated that an increasing proportion of the population uses communication service devices in their personal and business lives, which are dependent on the availability of radio spectrum. He said services such as Television, FM Radio, Very Small Amateur Satellites (VSAT) used by Embassies, Wireless Cellular Operators, Internet Service Providers, Amateur Radio, and Maritime and Aeronautical Services, among others all use the radio communications spectrum.
He said there is a need to review the respective spectrum management frameworks to facilitate the realization of the broadband goals as a strategic intervention towards the objectives of ensuring a conducive policy, a legal and regulatory framework that is responsive to industry demands.
Also, he continued, to increase access and usage of ICT in countries to transform the economies and improve service delivery, among others.
Representing the Director General of ARTP Senegal, Mandialy Bodian said the meeting will be fruitless if common issues affecting the neighboring countries are not addressed, adding that the starting ground has to begin in the ongoing meeting.
Serign Modou Ceesay who represented the Minister of Communication and Digital Economics said radio waves have no border and do not follow any national boundaries, therefore it is important to have a coordinated and consistent approach across borders to enable smooth communication and exchange of information and service.
According to Ceesay, coordination is essential for public safety organizations as they rely on radio communication networks to support critical operations such as emergency response and disaster management.
“Without coordination, there would be significant disruption in communication which could lead to a delay in providing help and assistance to the people in need,” he added.
In fulfilling the ITU recommendations, four regional meetings were held between the Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Mali, Cape Verde, and Senegal which is the Secretariat for the cross-border region.
At the end of the meeting, it was recommended that bordering countries should organize bilateral meetings between their telecommunications operators to strategies, and agree on ways of putting in place a spectrum plan that will enable both operators to provide interference-free services across the board areas.