Cooperation in the Communications sector is mandated by Articles 98 and 99 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.
Under the provisions of the Treaty, Partner States undertake to cooperate in the establishment and operation of communications infrastructure, the development and deployment of ICT applications and services and promotion of postal services. The Communications department at the EAC Secretariat is responsible for coordinating matters related to the sector.
The following are the four major strategic objectives of projects and programmes of the sector:
- i) Harmonization of ICT policies, laws and regulations among the EAC Partner States. An integral component of this strategic objective is the coordination and enhancement associated institutions;
- ii) Promote the establishment of communications infrastructure and services e.g. communications networks, e-government and e-commerce services, and geo-spatial information systems;
- iii) Standardization of technologies and services to allow internetworking and interoperability;
- v) Communications markets - Investment strategies, competition management, quality of service and consumer welfare.
- a) East African Community Broadband ICT Infrastructure Network (EAC-BIN)
The aim of this project is to establish and operate a cross-border broadband infrastructure network within the EAC. A study on the detailed pre-investment analysis and technical design for this network and was commissioned in May 2009, and the Final Report is expected by the end of February 2010.
- b) EAC Legal Framework for Cyber Laws.
A legal framework for cyber laws provides guidelines on the enactment and enforcement of laws that promote the deployment of e-government and e-commerce services. A draft EAC Legal Framework for Cyber laws has been developed, and awaits consideration and adoption by the Council of Ministers.
- c) Analog-to-Digital Broadcast Migration
From the year 2015, most countries will have switched their terrestrial broadcast systems from analog technologies to digital technologies. Digital terrestrial broadcasting offer several advantages over analog broadcasting. Besides providing more broadcast channels, digital broadcasting offer more services than can be provided by analog technologies.
ADBM requires government interventions on several areas including policy and regulatory regime, technology standardization, spectrum plans and business and consumer preparations. To that effect, the Secretariat is working with the International Telecommunications Union and the European Union to support a programme for harmonizing ADBM among EAC Partner States.
- d) ICT Policy and Harmonization Framework
Two reference instruments have been developed: a Regional Framework for Harmonization of National ICT Policies and a Study on the EAC Communications Regime. Both documents provide recommendations on harmonizing the ICT policies and regulations of Partner States. Harmonized communications policies and regulations would enhance the realization and sustenance of the Common Market.