Technology Mirror
MTN Group CEO Seeks Regulatory Harmonisation Across Africa

MTN Group CEO Seeks Regulatory Harmonisation Across Africa

MTN Group president and CEO, Ralph Mupita, has urged Africa’s governments to harmonise regulations, especially in the tech sector, to encourage increased investment in digital infrastructure.

Speaking at the opening of the Africa CEO Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, he said “I would argue that the thing we do need to think about is harmonising regulatory developments, particularly in the technology space,” he said, adding: “How do we create regulatory systems that are common across Africa?”

MTN’s latest result for Q1 2024 show it now has 288 million subscribers in the 18 markets in which the Pan-African firm operates.

Muptia told the CEO Forum, which included around 2 000 business leaders, CEOs, investors, heads of state and ministers, that harmonisation would help investors better anticipate their own returns.

He said that this, in turn, would encourage capital investment in the digital infrastructure required to accelerate economic development.

A report from the World Bank in 2019 estimated that around $100 billion will be needed to achieve universal access to broadband connectivity in Africa by 2030.

GSMA Intelligence data shows there were just under 520 million unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2023 – around 44% of the continent’s population. Of these, 296 million subscribers – equivalent to 57% of the total subscriber base − also subscribed to a mobile internet service, reveals Okeleke.

This is not the first time Mupita has called for harmonisation of regulations across the continent. Speaking at the Africa Prosperity Dialogue, held in Ghana in January 2023, he said: “The regulatory frameworks for Africa’s telecommunications industry do not reflect our current advancement. They are still positioned for the era of voice.”

He added: “As the world continues to undergo major digital transformation and disruption, our regulatory frameworks need to evolve to reflect these technological advancements.”

Mupita’s counterpart at rival Pan-African telco Vodacom, Shameel Joosub has also called for closer collaboration across the continent, through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), in an aim to improve trade and economic growth.

In 2023, in an Op-Ed focused on AfCFTA, Joosub said: “The AfCFTA’s aim of stimulating regional cross-border trade, enabled by digital technology, can provide SMEs access to new markets and financial systems that boost economic growth and promote inclusion. This creates opportunities for African businesses to diversify their customer base, develop new products and services, and enhance their competitiveness on a global scale.

“Increasing digital trade will lead to a rise in cross-border data sharing, which requires greater harmonisation on how AfCFTA members govern the use of data and digital identity systems and support digital trade through policies and regulations. While some African markets have implemented legislation on data protection and privacy, others have yet to develop and enact data policies. The AfCFTA can provide a regulatory framework for seamless data interoperability for intra-continental cross-border trade for member states to follow,” wrote Joosub

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