African Telecom Union Takes On New Challenges

GABORONE, BOTSWANA (04/06/2000) - What was considered an inefficient Pan African Telecommunications Union (PATU) has been restructured and renamed to face increasing challenges from the rapidly transforming African telecommunications scene. The organization is now called the Africa Telecommunication Union (ATU).

The restructured organization will attempt to bridge differences between the public and private sectors in both policies and operations, according to a paper published after the group's January meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.

ATU's aim is to forge public-and-private partnerships in to develop telecommunications. The new ATU includes both government telecommunications regulators and service providers.

Private sector participants will be associates and therefore will not have voting power, the ATU said. But allowing that measure of participation will enable the ATU to more adequately support private-sector infrastructure investment, the organization said.

Kenyan-born Jan Mutai was chosen at the Cape Town meeting to lead the restructured ATU. Mutai will work with the ATU Technical Committee, also formed during the conference, to consider standardization of telecommunications and radio communication in Africa.

In addition to policy formulation, ATU also will serve as a watchdog over financial and technical regulatory plans of member states.

ATU, is a specialized branch of the Organization of African Unity based in Kinsasha, Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to the war there, its home base has been temporarily moved to Nairobi, Kenya.

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