WRC-23: Representing Africa featured image

WRC-23: Representing Africa

By John Omo, Secretary General of the African Telecommunication Union (ATU)

As Africa prepares for the next World Radiocommunication Conference, WRC‑23, key issues under discussion in the region include the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band and spectrum-sharing between satellite and mobile-broadband services.

Based on my participation in the conference preparations, I see the expected outcomes shaping spectrum management in Africa substantially.

The regional preparatory group also recognizes the beneficial impact of the last WRC in 2019.

Key issues for the Africa region

We should not discount the interest of African countries in the full range of agenda items (topics) for WRC‑23. Yet, based on my participation in the conference preparations, three items stand out as particularly hot topics:

  • Item 1.5 — looking at the future of the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band.
  • Item 1.2 — relating to possible studies on International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) in frequency bands 3 300–3 400 megahertz (MHz), 3 600–3 800 MHz, 6 425–7 025 MHz, 7 025–7 125 MHz and
    10.0–10.5 gigahertz (GHz).
  • Item 1.3 — considering primary allocation of the band 3 600–3 800 MHz to the mobile service in Region 1.

For all three of these agenda items, the challenge lies in balancing the current and future spectrum needs of incumbent services against those of proposed new ones. Ultimately, we must ensure coexistence between incumbent and emerging radiocommunication services and systems.

Proponents versus opponents of change

My own observation has been that views tend to differ between the proponents of change, who favour spectrum use for new systems, and opponents of such change. I believe such differences are anchored, primarily, in deeply vested interests in the use of the spectrum bands.

The outcomes of WRC‑19 significantly shaped spectrum management in our region, with Resolution 559, for example, setting out remedial measures affecting the broadcasting satellite resources of 31 African countries.

Africa’s expectations

WRC‑23’s outcomes, particularly on those three key agenda items, are also sure to shape spectrum management in Africa in a significant, lasting way.

We must, therefore, exert all our efforts to ensure that WRC‑23 guarantees the optimal allocation and use of radio spectrum to enhance connectivity in Africa.

This article first appeared in the ITU News Magazine, which outlines key technical and regional perspectives on topics to be discussed at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23) taking place in Dubai, UAE, between 20 November and 15 December 2023.

Header image credit: Adobe Stock

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