Multi-stakeholder Discussions Key to Shaping Excellence in Cooperation in the Regional ICT Landscape

June 23, 2014 1:54 pm

SAMENA Telecommunications Council announced a successful conclusion to the Telecom Leaders’ Summit 2014 which was held recently in Dubai which attracted key industry visionaries from the global and regional ICT landscape. Organized under the theme, The Rise of the Broadband Economy – Shaping Excellence in Cooperation – Government, Telecom Operators, Internet Players, and hosted by Huawei, the Summit was aimed at identifying areas of further business growth and means to sustain investment in the future through SMART regulations.

On this occasion, H.E Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development who addressed the assembled leaders focused on the subject of net neutrality and said, “Under the wise leadership of our President, H.E Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, our country values the proper use of the Internet to advance human welfare. We must be both responsive and visionary as we discover how to best use and apply modern technology in a global context. In that context, the role of compromise looms large when various parties try to reach consensus on net neutrality. Few users of the Internet are willing to tolerate anything but equal status with all other users of the Internet. We must discuss and try to understand the value of everything that is at stake in regard to net neutrality. As leaders of the telecommunications community assembled here, you have a duty to Internet users to work together through tolerance, compassion, and dialogue. I am confident that your dialogue here is fulfilling that duty and that you are acutely aware of its importance.”

Speaking on this occasion, H.E Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General, ITU said, “The ICT environment is evolving at an unprecedented pace and usage data is rising at a remarkable rate. In such a fast-growing ICT landscape, the need for investments towards broadband infrastructure becomes all the more important, not only for operators but also for the Internet players as well. Regulators need to identify a sound regulatory framework that will work in the favour of all the stakeholders with an overall profitable return. We need to incorporate best practices with lessons learned from various countries while avoiding the same mistakes.”

“The ICT market in the region is very dynamic and we are experiencing a massive rise in the industry in the Arab region in particular. Mobile broadband is the future and Middle East is already on the right track when it comes to growth and expansion in the ICT sector, with an investment opportunity of $300 billion in the region,” he added.

The Summit spanned three sessions featuring discussions on various topics including Mobile Data Growth and Spectrum Needs, Convergence of Telecom, Media and OTTs – Regulating for the Future and Broadband Investment.

“In 2014, we have witnessed significant events in terms of encouraging the on-going debate on industry issues and opportunities such as the recently concluded World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) in Dubai, which was very successful. The Telecom Leaders’ Summit 2014 is another important initiative organized by the SAMENA Telecommunications Council that brings together key industry stakeholders to facilitate strong cooperation across the sector,” said Mr. H.E. Mohamed Al Ghanim – DG, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), UAE.

The discussions at The Telecom Leaders’ Summit 2014 highlighted the role of government bodies in developing investment friendly policy frameworks for broadband development, balancing the costs of broadband network upgrades and regulatory frameworks and enabling a conducive environment by reducing regulatory burdens on operators. The panellists also evaluated the evolving trends in digital governance, in addition to the significance of cooperation in digital governance space. Further, the discussions underlined the importance of a comprehensive broadband development strategy, encompassing issues such as the CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) – OPEX (Operating Expenditure) challenge and the emergence of mobile services, Internet player applications and OTT videos.

“We need a transparent dialogue with our operators so we can exchange ideas to foster growth and develop new opportunities for our digital economy, especially in an environment that is witnessing huge investments in broadband infrastructure. Currently, we are experiencing transformation in the ICT sector of the region, along with issues such as loss of data in a network, competition from OTT players and the entry of cross-border companies who are operating outside of the jurisdiction of the TRA. This leads to a new kind of a competition that we need to deal with. To overcome this, we need to facilitate discussions between operators, policy makers, regulators and private sector entities. The Telecom Leaders’ Summit 2014 thus serves as a crucial platform that will help shape this conversation to provide us with the answers we need to move a step further into the digital world,” said Mr. Bocar Ba, CEO, SAMENA Telecommunications Council.

“We are experiencing a massive rise in digital technologies with a major impact that affects the lives of every member of our society as well as corporations, governments, nations and the world as a whole. We are looking at a multi-stake holder equation now. As we move deeper into a world led by digital technologies, we need a very strong conversation between the operators, regulators as well as regional and international organizations that are setting the framework for this advancement in technology as well as our economy,” said Mr. Osman Sultan, CEO, du.

“We are operating on a very fertile ground in the sense that the infrastructure that exists in the UAE is very advanced in terms of penetration of fibre optics, the penetration of smart phone and mobile technologies, etc. The two key initiatives launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, including ‘Dubai Smart Government’, which is in line with UAE’s Vision 2020 and ‘Dubai Smart City’, give us the opportunity to explore new areas to experience how the new technology will create a positive impact in the lives of people. We hope that the insights from The Telecoms Leaders’ Summit 2014 will help us in providing better services to the end user,” he added.

“As a leading global ICT solutions provider, our role is to support our strategic partners to ensure that they can operate in the right environment. With our enhanced line-up of technologies, which fall in line with governmental smart initiatives and the anticipated transformation towards digital economies, we are able to successfully cater to the telecom, enterprise and consumer markets. Further, with our end-to-end solutions and global expertise driven by our R&D, we are always keen on collaborating with key industry players to drive the development agenda of not only the telecom sector, but also the overall regional ICT industry,” said Mr. Ihab Ghattas, Assistant President, Huawei Middle East.

Key panellists and attendees of The Telecom Leaders’ Summit 2014 comprised a strong line-up of company heads, officials and ministers including His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, UAE; His Excellency Mohamed Al Ghanim, DG, TRA, UAE; Dr. Amr Badawi, Board Member, NTRA – Egypt; Dr. Nasser Marafih, CEO, Ooredoo Group and Chairman of Board of Directors, SAMENA Telecommunications Council; Mr. Shi Yaohong, President, Huawei Middle East; His Excellency Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General, ITU; Mr. John Giusti, Head of Public Policy, GSMA; Mr. Luigi Gambardella, Executive Chairman, ETNO; Mr. Osman Sultan, CEO, du; His Excellency Abdelaziz bin Abdullah Al- Sugair, Chairman, STC Group; Mr. Scott Gegenheimer, CEO, Zain Group and Dr. Amer bin Awadh Al-Rawas, CEO, Omantel.