In October 2013, the Nigerian Communications Commission hosted the first ever CATCO - Conference of African Telecommunications Regulators on Consumer Affairs - with the theme “Harnessing Regulatory Policies to Protect Telecom Consumers in Africa” in Lagos, Nigeria. The conference drew not only African telecommunication regulators but also other key industry stakeholders such as telecoms consumers, legislators and telecoms service providers from over 15 African countries including Angola, Niger, Uganda, Sudan, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa, Cameroun, Benin Republic, and Nigeria - the host country, as well as representatives from the African Telecommunications Union (ATU).
The participants provided varying and fresh perspectives to issues affecting telecoms consumers and service delivery, and discussed ways to improve the telecoms industry in Africa at large. The issues discussed included;
- Promoting collaboration between telecoms regulators in Africa on consumer related issues;
- To deliberate on ‘burning’ industry issues being experienced in Africa;
- Providing African telecoms regulators and industry stakeholders a platform to interact, exchange ideas and proffer solutions to the identified issues;
- To discuss international best practices, initiatives, trends (emerging technologies) and their application for consumer benefits;
- To address challenges facing African telecoms regulators such as quality of service;
- To devise means of ensuring good consumer experience/satisfaction so as to reduce the stream of complaints and petitions regarding various ICT issues;
- To look at the individual country experiences viz. environmental and political challenges inhibiting telecoms regulation.
Major highlights of the conference involved discussions on key consumer centric issues such as Customer Care Centres, the Telecoms Consumer Parliaments and other outreach programs, Quality of Service, Sales Promotions, Consumer Codes of Practice, etc.
CATCO 2019, to be held in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, is to advance on the gains of CATCO 2013 and to pursue the goal of continuous collaboration between African telecommunications regulatory bodies. Together with the ATU and other regional African bodies, i.e. EACO, SATA, WATRA, the aim is to collaborate to create a framework for telecom regulators and all other stakeholders to advance consumer experience, and to ensure that consumers are adequately protected, informed and educated in the face of the continued evolution of telecommunications and ICT technologies.
As with the first conference, CATCO 2019 aims to provide a platform for Africans to establish unity, solidarity, collective self-reliance amongst African countries, building on the principle of pan-Africanism within the ICT space for African consumers.
The target audience for the Conference are;
- Stakeholders from various African countries who are interested in the positive growth of the telecommunication industry in Africa, and advanced stakeholders seeking to be updated on the latest ICT developments.
- African Telecommunication Regulators and Regional bodies such as THE West Africa Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (WATRA), Communications Regulators' Association of Southern Africa (CRASA), East African Communications Organization (EACO), and the African Telecommunication Union (ATU).
- Legislators and Government Officials
- Consumer Advocacy Groups
- Expert speakers on Consumer Centric Telecommunication