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SAMENA Council Delivered Operators’ Perspectives at ITU’s World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS 2018) in Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva, March 20, 2018 – SAMENA Telecommunications Council delivered telecom operators' perspectives on financing mechanisms to accelerate Digital Transformation during the WSIS Innovation Track held on 19 March 2018 and highlighted and delivered key priorities to bridge the Digital Divide in SAMENA Region in a Policy Statement submitted during the WSIS High-Level Policy Track on “Bridging Digital Divides”, held on 20 March 2018. The Summit brought together more than 2,500 information and communication technology (ICT) experts and leaders from around the globe at ITU headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland to advance technological solutions to accelerate progress on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In relation to financing mechanisms, SAMENA telecommunications Council, represented by its CEO, Bocar BA, focused the discussion on the regulatory barriers that prevent the effective investment into infrastructure upgrades and roll-out. To an audience of ministers and global leaders, the Council emphasized close alignment between government policy-setting and private sector priorities as key to enable targeted investment and accelerate digitization.

Panelists, including from SAMENA Council, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, WeRobotics and national development organizations discussed developments and presented examples of ICT funding in multiple contexts, including the key adoption barriers and how to overcome these to close the digital divide, as well as ways to achieve the shared vision of an interconnected society, where benefits of the Internet are realized for all members of society. Increased collaboration and dialogue between public and the private sectors as well as local capacity building was identified as key to achieving this goal.

In relation to Bridging Digital Divides, Bocar BA highlighted to a global audience of ministers, government officials and private sector leaders, that there are many factors that can narrow or widen the digital divide in a society, which include economic and infrastructure factors, political and regulatory factors, government support and individual readiness for ICT; and government-, business- and individual usage of ICT. Mr. BA emphasized that to ensure targeted investment into ICT infrastructure upgrades and roll-out, ICT capacity building, and affordable ICT equipment and devices, collaboration with regulators is needed alongside alignment of public- and private sector priorities and policies that stimulate demand and that set hard targets. Working together to enhance ICT skills, relevance, foster human capital, and strengthen efforts to making ICT access and services more affordable, while adapting economic regulation to reflect new relationships, are key to achieving the shared vision of an interconnected and fully inclusive human society.

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 most renowned regional telecom operators, including Saudi Telecom, Etisalat, Batelco Group, du, Viva Kuwait, Orange - MEA, Zain Group, Telecom Egypt, Sudatel, Omantel, and Alfa (managed by Orascom TMT), 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 empowers stakeholders to communicate together and addressing the most pressing industry issues, in order 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 2018 in Barcelona, Saudi Telecom Company, represented by Eng. Nasser Al Nasser as its GCEO, was re-elected to chair the Board of Directors of SAMENA Council.