The CRASA-GSMA partnership: A Panacea to innovation in the Regional Regulatory Environment

The value of collaboration in Africa continues to be realized through multilateral partnerships that various regional bodies build with the private sector to bring about development and growth in different segments of the continent’s socioeconomic fabric. A number of regional bodies exist with the objective of ensuring that there is co-ordination in the different roles that they play, and that the effort produces meaningful impact.

With the GSMA Mobile 360 – Africa approaching, the GSMA regional policy team reflects on the positive strides that are promoting regional cooperation between the mobile industry and the Governments and regulators in the Region, as Mobile 360 – Africa and the Policy Leaders Forum offers an opportunity to forge new partnerships. Exploring some of the highlights of successful collaborations holds prospects to inspire the strengthening of these collaborations and encourage the development of new ones.

One such successful partnership is between the GSMA and the Communication Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA).

CRASA is a membership of ICT and Postal regulatory authorities of Southern African countries. This entity plays the vital role of harmonising the Postal and Information Communications and Technologies (ICT) regulatory environment in the Southern Africa sub-region.

Thirteen countries, through their Postal and ICT regulatory authorities, are currently active members of CRASA whose secretariat is hosted by the Government of Botswana with offices based in Gaborone, Botswana. These are: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The CRASA Secretariat has maintained a close working relationship with the GSMA to, amongst other things:

One of the results of the collaboration between the GSMA and CRASA has been the development of sub-regional guidelines on Rural Broadband and Digital Financial Inclusion, and a Guideline document for CRASA members to refer to should they wish to conduct Mobile Broadband Gap analysis. The effort that produced these outputs was supported by collaborative activities and engagements, including workshops on Rural Connectivity & Universal Access Service.

From capacity building workshops and knowledge-sharing interactions on spectrum-related matters, such as the Spectrum Pricing and Auction Workshop organised by GSMA in 2016, this stream of activities provided invaluable insights which CRASA members were guided by in conducting spectrum auctions that resulted in much-needed spectrum being assigned in the last few years, including in Angola, Mozambique and Tanzania. CRASA has also gone on to drive the development of a regional Frequency Allocation Plan.

The learnings offered by the GSMA’s ‘Competition Policy in the Digital Era’ workshop, organised by CRASA for its membership in 2016, served as a useful stepping stone for the development of the CRASA Competition Assessment Framework for the ICT Sector.

The GSMA’s partnership with CRASA has been productive towards contributing to, facilitating, or progressing the development of Regional Regulatory Frameworks, and informing the decisions of regulators in the Southern Africa region. Maintaining the partnership between this outcome and result-focused sub-regional entity and the mobile industry association will continue to be beneficial towards ensuring a regional regulatory environment that keeps pace with innovation in industry.