July 15, 2016

Breaking news

In Senegal, the Autorité de régulation des télécommunications et des postes (ARTP ; English translation: Telecommunications and Posts Regulatory Authority) has, just like all regulators, inherent powers to impose sanctions. In general, the important thing is not only to exercise this sanctioning power but to exercise it in a way that reinforces the authority of the Regulator. In this perspective, the new Sonatel sanction decision is important. 

As a sanctions always carry a heavier weight when people are made aware of it, the Director General of the Artp issued a press release, that has been flagged as particularly important, and held a press conference (in French) on a particularly serious sanction imposed following what the Regulator considers as the non-fulfilment of obligations stemming from formal notices (which, by the way, the telecom operator challenges on the merits).

On 21 November 2014 indeed, the Sonatel was given a formal notice from the Artp to respect consumer rights. As the code of telecommunications provides since its modification in 2014, operators shall "prendre les mesures appropriées de dimensionnement de leurs réseaux de nature à garantir à leurs clients un accès ininterrompu à leur service client commercial ou technique en respectant un taux d’efficacité minimal" (translation: "take appropriate measures to size their networks in a way that provides their consumers with an uninterrupted access to their customer service (sales service and technical support) which would respect a minimum efficiency rate") set by the Regulator itself- as to, namely, ensure that the right of consumers to be informed is satisfied (as regards billing mechanisms) and that their calls to consumer services remain free of charge. As the Regulator estimated that the Sonatel was not complying with such regulations, it conducted a formal investigation and notified a statement of objections to the operator, before sending on 28 January 2015 a second formal notice for the same reasons. 

On 14 July 2016, the Regulator imposed a sanction on Sonatel since the it still estimated that the operator's behavior still was not leading to a compliant situation as regards the consumer right to be informed. The sanction, as stated in the Sonatel decision, is 13 billion 959 million FCfa (c. €20m), i.e., 15% of Sonatel's 2015 turnover. The sanction decision also provides that if the operator does not enforce it, an additional penalty of 10m FCfa (c. €15,000) per day will be charged.

The operator, however, challenges this sanction insofar as it estimates that its behavior is not to be blamed. To support its claim, Sonatel avails itself from the fact that upon reception of the first formal notice, it undertook a 'progressive compliance' with the requirements process as regards its network, then let the Regulator know about it, etc. It is henceforth to lodge an appeal. 

The issue at stake, therefore, is to know whether the obligations on operators are obligations regarding the means used (that is to say, means obligations), or, conversely, if they are obligations to produce results (performance obligations). If they are means obligations, then the operator is right. However, considering the efficiency and effectivity principes that are closely linked with the teleological nature of Regulation, it is more likely that such obligations are performance obligations. 

For instance, in France, the Commission Informatiques et Libertés (French Data Protection Authority- CNIL) considered on 1 March 2016!footnote-42 that the obligations on operators to have accurate and complete data are performance obligations and not mere means obligations. 

Thus, there is probably more to follow with this Sonatel decision. The day the press release was issued, the operator stated it intended to lodge a hierarchical appeal before the Minister. 

The next day, the Director General of the Artp stated in the press (in French) that under the Senegal law, the appeal could only be lodged before a jurisdiction, or before... the Regulatory Authority itself (request for reconsideration - in French : "recours gracieux").

This situation is thus a great reminder that new illustrations of the interplays between Regulation and Politics can always be found.

Updated: Sept. 25, 2012 (Initial publication: Sept. 19, 2011)

Sectorial Analysis

Main information

An advertisement broadcast in Burkina Faso for an insecticide did not reveal its health risks. The national media regulator published a decision on September 6, 2011 ordering that it be taken off the air and “requested” that the media refrain from broadcasting advertisements dangerous for human health and dignity.

Updated: Sept. 17, 2012 (Initial publication: Sept. 9, 2012)

Breaking news

In Cameroon, the electricity sector is organized around a public operator, the Aes-Sonel, which the State conceded the transmission and distribution of electricity. The “Agence de Régulation du Secteur de l’Energie – ARSEL ( Cameroons Regulatory Agency Electricity Sector ) is responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of the system, quality of service and consumer protection. As in other African countries for the moment the country suffers from a lack of electrification planning and a lack of access to electricity, a significant portion of the population. However, the regulator has commissioned a survey from June 4 to August 16, 2012. He was released on September 5 which he says the study shows that the operator doesn’t provide public service obligations correctly towards consumers. The operator responds by saying that on the one hand the study is not conclusive and that other conditions, external to him, do not bring electricity to everyone but it’s not its fault.

Updated: Sept. 11, 2012 (Initial publication: Sept. 7, 2012)

Breaking news

About electric Regulation, Senegal remained halfway. Indeed, it has instituted a regulator, the "Commission de Régulation du Secteur de l'Electricité - CRSE)" (Senegale Regulatory Commission of Electricity Sector), but it built the sector around a public operator, SENEGEL with which the State has concluded a concession contract . This operator has the legal monopoly on the transport and distribution. As for production, it has the right to purchase electricity produced by independent producers, as it can sell them electricity if necessary. The prices are regulated by the regulator, through a cap. On 4 August 2012, the regulator has reported a plan of action. This is to make more transparent the relationship between the public operator and independent producers, the information being given to consumers. This is for encouraging them to act and obtain prices more favorable. This incentive is an alternative to net more liberalization of the sector.

Updated: Sept. 10, 2012 (Initial publication: May 31, 2012)

Sectorial Analysis

Updated: Aug. 30, 2012 (Initial publication: July 16, 2012)

Sectorial Analysis

Updated: June 25, 2012 (Initial publication: June 21, 2012)

Breaking news

First of all, the Turkey and Niger signed June 12, 2012 a cooperation agreement for the development of telecommunications in Niger. It includes a program of cooperation between the two national authorities of regulation and provision of expertise on the part of the Turkish authority to the authority of the Niger. Secondly, it provides a system of training, so that operators entering the telephone and Internet market. Thirdly, the Turkey provides financial assistance to Niger that infrastructures are built, required for the deployment of a national telecommunications market.

Updated: June 4, 2012 (Initial publication: May 22, 2012)

Breaking news

The Gambia has 1.7 million inhabitants and 4 mobile operators. It was common that people use prepaid cards purchased on the street, without revealing their identity. In January 2012, the telecommunications regulatory authority, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) enacted the obligation to identify the holder of a mobile phone; this declaration must be made before June 15, 2015. It is not possible since January to buy prepaid SIM cards and from June, if the identification is not made, the line will be suspended. Associations are protesting, seeing in this device a mechanism for monitoring of the population.

Updated: May 14, 2012 (Initial publication: May 8, 2012)

Breaking news

Economic regulation systems only work if regulators are independent, which implies in a minimal way that they are not corrupt. Few countries meet this basic requirement. Côte d'Ivoire has a telecommunications Agency, which is a State Corporation. By order of March 21, 2012, the Government creates the telecommunications regulatory authority. On May 4, 2012, the Board of Directors of the Agency of telecommunications convened to an extraordinary session and put an end to the mandate of its Director General, because of "serious shortcomings observed in the performance of his duties". He was immediately replaced by a telecommunication engineer, previously technical adviser to the Ministry. He was assigned the mission of preparing the transition of the system to an effectively independent, autonomous and impartial regulator.

Updated: May 9, 2012 (Initial publication: April 20, 2012)

Breaking news

The Algerian population is heavily access the mobile phone. Operators had designed special offers, including the terminal itself and a "pre-paid" said contract, the subscriber having a consumption credit, thereby decreasing by the use. The Algerian Telecommunications regulator, by a decision of March, 7 2012, has purely and simply prohibits this type of offer, while she oversees other type of promotional offers. This prohibition is criticized in that it breaks the dynamics of the market, 95% of the customers do not have the opportunity to access to another service than prepaid subscription and being excluded from access to the mobile terminals. It is advocated by others, that only subscriptions giving rise to payment after the use correspond to a mature market, with creditworthy customers and more complex services. The regulator did not intend to speak on this issue.

Updated: May 9, 2012 (Initial publication: April 29, 2012)

Breaking news

The elections in Senegal bring in power a new President of the Republic. Almost immediately after, the Director General of the Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications et des Postes (ARTP) – (Regulatory authority of telecommunications and posts) is replaced. It took the form of a Decree of April 19, 2012. The new Director General is Mr Ndongo who is Telecommunications engineer.

Updated: Sept. 19, 2011 (Initial publication: Sept. 16, 2011)