SAMENA Council highlights private sector's role in advancing the Sustainable Development Agenda at ITU's WTDC-17 Private Sector Roundtable in Buenos Aires, Argentina 2017/10/11

Dubai, 11 October 2017 - SAMENA Telecommunications Council highlighted at WTDC-17’s Private Sector Roundtable a fundamental role that the private sector plays in advancing the globally-adopted sustainable development agenda. The Private Sector Roundtable was held on 8 October 2017 as a pre-event to ITU’s WTDC in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with more than 100 distinguished participants from the private and public sectors in attendance. Mr. Bocar A. BA, CEO of SAMENA Telecommunications Council and Chair of the Chief Regulatory Officer (CRO) Meeting, was invited to deliver the key note CRO presentation and to moderate the Private Sector Roundtable.

Mr. BA, in his keynote, drew on the primary objective of the Roundtable, to serve as a forum for private-sector stakeholders to share and discuss experiences, challenges, and opportunities. He highlighted key success factors relating to the establishment of effective public-private partnerships in a converged ICT ecosystem, and to fostering investment and socio-economic growth and greater involvement in the globally-agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Mr. BA stated, "This Roundtable is special in its own right as it reflects on ITU's readiness as an institution to take private-sector views into policy-level consideration at the Member States level. This Roundtable compliments existing platforms within the ITU, such as the Chief Regulatory Officers Meeting or CRO, and the m-Powering Development Initiative’s WG on Partnerships, both of which facilitate and support the establishment of public-private partnerships." Mr. BA then presented the activities and initiatives of the CRO and shared his views on how the private sector can play its role in revitalizing partnership development toward fulfilling the SDGs.

Thirteen interventions were made by distinguished private and public-sector representatives that presented case examples, setting out challenges, opportunities and key success factors and the roles of policy makers and regulators in establishing innovative public-private partnerships on ICT4SDGs. Interveners expressed that the private sector takes a pivotal role in deploying Internet-related infrastructure and delivering a wide range of ICT services. Businesses also contribute to encouraging access through capacity building and education initiatives, promoting innovation, public-private research and development partnerships, where businesses work with other stakeholders. The key challenges that were highlighted included that old policies/regulations need to be updated to reflect the Digital Age (e.g., the inclusion of non-traditional stakeholders within frameworks) to promote new and innovative projects and programs that complement existing/future network deployments. Many opportunities exist to deploy infrastructure and some of those relate to changes to licensing regimes, access to spectrum, and to revised or new funding programs.

With the SDGs, the world leaders are calling for creative and innovative solutions by the private sector to scale-up investments in activities that contribute to the goals though public-private partnerships.

SAMENA Council, as a sector development partner to both the private and public sectors anticipates playing an important role in bridging gaps in stakeholder communication and in contributing to collective endeavors towards fulfilling the global sustainable development agenda through ICTs. SAMENA Council also believes that collaboration and co-operation among stakeholders have become more crucial to mutual success in translating the benefits of ICTs toward global socio-economic development and empowerment.

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About SAMENA Telecommunications Council
SAMENA Telecommunications Council is South Asia - Middle East - North Africa (SAMENA) region’s premier industry association of telecom operators and service providers. SAMENA Council voices network operators’ issues and needs to regulators, policymakers, and international institutions. The largest regional telecom groups, including Saudi Telecom, Etisalat, Batelco, Ooredoo, Viva Kuwait, Orange Jordan, Turk Telekom, Zain, Omantel, among other leading operators and technology companies, are a part of the Council’s membership. SAMENA Council is a sector development partner to the private and the public sectors, and believes in bringing all stakeholders closer together to help create a sustainable business environment for the industry, and to accelerate digital development in regional economies.

As an international non-profit organization, SAMENA Council is contributing to the understanding of cross-stakeholder priorities within the public and the private sectors. The Council has created a unique regional position as the regulatory reach and operator advocacy organization, promoting institution-level engagements with leading private and public-sector organizations.

SAMENA Council was founded in 2006. In February 2016, Saudi Telecom Company, represented by Dr. Khaled Biyari, became the chairman of the Board of Directors of SAMENA Council.