Exploring the Crucial Roles and Functions of Liberia’s ICT Triad (MPT, LTA, and LTC); as Enshrined in the Telecommunications Act of 2007

Exploring the Crucial Roles and Functions of Liberia’s ICT Triad (MPT, LTA, and LTC); as Enshrined in the Telecommunications Act of 2007

By: Dr. Darren Wilkins 

The Liberian Telecommunications Act of 2007 is comprehensive legislation that delineates the roles and responsibilities of key entities in the country’s ICT sector. It designates the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) as “The Policy Maker,” responsible for formulating national ICT policies, promoting digital literacy, and facilitating international collaborations. The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) is designated “The Regulator,” tasked with ensuring fair market practices, protecting consumer rights, and addressing cybersecurity concerns. The Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LTC) is identified as “The Operator,” responsible for expanding and maintaining the national telecommunications infrastructure, providing reliable services, and contributing to national development through ICT initiatives. The act serves as a legal framework guiding these entities toward coordinated efforts to advance Liberia’s ICT sector. 

Over the years, I have contributed several articles to provide insight into the roles and functions of the major players in Liberia’s ICT sector. My motivation stems from the observation that many Liberians lack clarity about the specific roles of different entities in the sector. For instance, there’s a tendency to hold the MPT accountable for issues related to GSM operators’ services, and confusion often arises between the responsibilities of the LTA and LTC. In today’s article, my aim once again is to elucidate these distinctions and outline the roles and functions of each player of Liberia’s ICT “Triad,” which includes the MPT, LTA, and LTC. I will begin with the MPT, which oversees the sector. 

The MPT, which is the head of the sector, is considered “The Policy Maker” as enshrined in the National Telecommunications Act of 2007. The MPT is at the helm of Liberia’s ICT policy and strategy. As the primary policy-making body, MPT is entrusted with crafting and implementing frameworks that guide the nation’s ICT development. The MPT focuses on long-term vision, ensuring that Liberia leverages the transformative power of technology to drive economic growth and societal advancement. The MPT has certain core functions, including formulating national ICT policies and strategies, overseeing the development and implementation of e-government initiatives, promoting digital literacy and inclusion, facilitating international collaborations for technology transfer, and addressing regulatory and legal frameworks governing the ICT sector. 

While MPT’s core responsibility is to craft comprehensive ICT policies and strategies, it has over the years been faced with several challenges. These challenges arise in the formulation and effective implementation of policies that align with the dynamic nature of technology. Adapting to emerging trends, such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT), requires continuous policy evolution, posing a significant challenge. 

Furthermore, overseeing the development and implementation of e-government initiatives necessitates robust frameworks that enhance government services through technology. MPT has faced challenges in ensuring the seamless integration of digital solutions across government entities, leading to gaps in the effectiveness of e-government programs. 

The LTA is designated as enshrined within the Telecommunications Act of 2007, “The Regulator.”. Serving as the regulatory arm of Liberia’s ICT sector, the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) plays a critical role in maintaining a fair, competitive, and innovative telecommunications environment. LTA’s focus is on safeguarding consumer interests, promoting healthy market competition, and ensuring that ICT services are accessible to all citizens. There are few fundamental functions of the LTA including but not limited to: issuing and managing licenses for telecom operators; enforcing regulations to guarantee fair market practices; allocating and managing frequency spectrum; protecting consumer rights and ensuring service quality; and monitoring and addressing cybersecurity concerns. 

The MPT formulates policies governing the management of government-owned resources, which are subsequently regulated by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA). Among these resources is the spectrum, a crucial element for all wireless communications. Given the naturally limited quantity of usable spectrum, and with the expanding use of mobile technology relying on the electromagnetic spectrum, market demand is substantial. The LTA is tasked with optimizing the utilization of this finite resource to achieve its highest and best use. 

On the other hand, the rapid evolution of technology presents challenges in adapting regulatory policies to keep pace with advancements. To ensure we achieve our national social and economic goals, the LTA must continually update its regulatory framework to address emerging technologies, such as 5G, IoT, and AI, which can pose challenges in terms of policy formulation and enforcement. 

The LTC is designated “The Operator” by the Telecommunications Act of 2007. As the national telecommunications service provider, the LTC is responsible for delivering reliable and efficient communication services across the country. LTC acts as a key player in building and maintaining the necessary infrastructure to connect communities, businesses, and government institutions. Some key functions of the LTC are: expanding and maintaining the national telecommunications infrastructure; Providing reliable voice and data services; facilitating connectivity in remote and underserved areas; contributing to national development through ICT initiatives; and collaborating with international partners for technology exchange. 

Over the years, the LTC has struggled to achieve its mandate as enshrined in the Telecommunications Act of 2007. This is due to the plethora of challenges the entity faces. A major challenge faced by the LTC is the lack of financial resources to operate the entity. Adequate funding is crucial for LTC to execute its mandate effectively. Financial constraints, budgetary limitations, and competing priorities have hindered the corporation’s ability to make essential investments in infrastructure, technology, and human capital. 

The LTC continues to struggle with expanding and maintaining the national telecommunications infrastructure. This includes issues related to outdated technology, insufficient investment in network expansion, and difficulties in reaching remote and underserved areas. These challenges have hampered LTC’s ability to provide seamless and widespread communication services.

Also, consumers have expressed concerns regarding the reliability of LTC’s services. Downtime, network outages, and service interruptions have been reported, impacting both individual users and businesses. These issues not only affect the quality of service but also hinder LTC’s effectiveness in meeting the demands of a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

The Telecommunications Act of 2007 emphasizes LTC’s role in contributing to national development through ICT initiatives. However, the corporation has faced difficulties keeping pace with technological advancements and fostering innovation. This has resulted in a digital divide, limiting the potential benefits that could arise from a technologically empowered population. 

While LTC plays a critical role in Liberia’s telecommunications landscape, it is imperative to address the challenges hindering its ability to fulfill its mandate. Strategic interventions, increased investments, and a concerted effort to align LTC with the evolving technological landscape are essential for overcoming these obstacles. By doing so, LTC can better contribute to the nation’s digital transformation and ensure that all Liberians have access to reliable and advanced communication services. 

Overall, in synergy, the “Triad” forms a robust framework that propels Liberia’s ICT sector forward. The MPT sets the strategic direction, the LTA ensures regulatory compliance, and the LTC is expected to deliver the tangible services that connect Liberians to the digital age. As Liberia continues its journey toward becoming a digitally empowered nation, the harmonious collaboration among these key players becomes increasingly vital for fostering innovation, economic growth, and an improved quality of life for all citizens.

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