Sharing regulatory best practices between Europe and Africa: BEREC at the ITU symposium
14 April 2021
On 14 April 2021, BEREC, represented by the Chair Michel Van Bellinghen and the incoming Chair 2022 Annemarie Sipkes, virtually joined the roundtable discussions on the regulatory dialogue across Europe and Africa, organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The BEREC Chair Michel Van Bellinghen (BIPT, Belgium) focused on the strategies, policies, experiences and challenges in sharing regulatory best practices between Europe and Africa. He highlighted the efforts of BEREC to reach out and engage in dialogue with regional organisations and National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) beyond the European Union (EU). This also includes Africa more recently. Michel Van Bellinghen said that regulatory cooperation between BEREC and African Regulators is growing in importance since Africa has a booming electronic communications sector.
In 2018, the Policy and Regulatory Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA), a joint initiative of the African Union (AU), the EU, and the ITU, was launched to enable legal and regulatory framework development across Africa. BEREC has acknowledged this initiative in its Strategy 2021-2025 and its Work Programmes and has committed itself to support this project.
During the forum, the BEREC Chair also pointed out that the COVID-19 crisis has taught the importance of connectivity and that it cannot be underestimated. It should be widely recognised that the telecommunications sector has demonstrated its vital role for societies and economies in Europe and Africa. One of the most pressing issues that the pandemic has shown to the regulators and policymakers is the importance of addressing the so-called digital divide. Promoting full connectivity for all citizens in both continents is one of the main missions arising from this crisis. BEREC is currently conducting a study on which measures NRAs can take to contribute to further closing the digital divide.
The incoming BEREC Chair 2022 Annemarie Sipkes (ACM, the Netherlands) joined a discussion on the regional perspectives for the regulation of digital transformation and discussed the acceleration of inclusive connectivity, access and use, which is a part of BEREC priorities. She said that “BEREC contributes to digital connectivity through evidence based regulation and continuous dialogue.”
The empowerment of end-users is especially relevant for inclusive connectivity. Here, the incoming Chair referred to the BEREC study on consumer behaviour and attitudes towards Digital Platforms, which will be published later this spring. She mentioned that it is essential to gain an evidence-based understanding of the interaction between the consumers and the digital platforms.
She further presented examples of the work of BEREC in line with its strategic priorities. To promote full connectivity, BEREC will analyse the regulatory treatment for backhaul this year. In addition, to the support of sustainable and open digital markets, BEREC is working on harmonising the definitions for the over-the-top services' indicators.
About the event
The “21st Global Symposium for Regulators: Regional Regulatory Roundtable for Europe and Africa” organised by the ITU gathered NRAs, regulatory associations and other international organisations from the two continents.
The main aim of the event was to identify the key regulatory priorities at the regional level and foster regulatory dialogue across Europe and Africa.