Press Release

Press Release

SAMENA Council at GSR2018 shared perspectives on new regulatory frontiers and together with other representatives of the private sector identified measures to strengthen the industry in ITU-D in Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva, July 10, 2018 - SAMENA Telecommunications Council, represented by its CEO Bocar A. Ba and Chief Economist Imme Philbeck, attended the 18th Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR18), which took place on 10-12 July 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. As the chairman to the Private Sector Chief Regulatory Officer’s Meeting (“CRO”) and the Industry Advisory Group on Development Issues (“IAGDI”) Meeting, Mr. Ba moderated the discussion of the industry to identify and define priority areas for the work of the private sector groups. Mr. Ba also shared perspectives of its members regarding new regulatory frontiers.

Under the chairmanship of Mr. Ba, the IAGDI meeting called for action on facilitating access to connectivity for everyone in a sustainable manner and identified the adoption of a multi-stakeholder engagement approach, the harnessing of the power of new technologies, and the establishment of an effective cross-sector collaboration -and cooperation framework to enable new business models, as key steps towards achieving this goal. The group further stressed the importance of addressing the areas of (1) ubiquitous infrastructure deployment, (2) the drive up of broadband adoption and usage rates; and (3) the creation of an environment where innovation can flourish as key actions to facilitating access to connectivity for everyone. For each area, the group further identified a number of calls for actions that industry in collaboration with regulators and governments are encouraged to adopt and act upon to ensure the advancement of sustainable development.

The meeting of the private sector CRO, designed to facilitate discussion and information sharing on emerging digital technologies driving digital transformation, was held in conjunction with the first meeting of the IAGDI. The IAGDI was established by Resolution 71 at the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-17) as a partnership platform for industry leaders on overall development issues of ICTs which can contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

During the Industry Leaders’ Track, a number of SAMENA Council Members provided their perspective on the key sectors and new technologies such as e.g. blockchain that will disrupt or transform today’s economy alongside the key technological and regulatory enablers that need to be in place to allow transformation for all stakeholders. In relation to investment opportunities by the private sector, it was proposed that banks should consider developing new approaches to small and local start-up financing, given that such ventures often cannot meet or provide to standard criteria such as long-term revenue and business plans.

In line with the theme of this year’s GSR “New Regulatory Frontiers”, Mr. Ba highlighted the importance of regional cooperation as pertains to cross-border data management and data privacy during one of the panel sessions organized during the conference. In relation to regulation of artificial intelligence and its underlying algorithms, he stressed that while overall standards that provide guidance for the development of AI-embedded technologies might make sense, we cannot regulate the code itself.

In his closing statement as chair of the CRO/IAGDI meeting, Mr. Ba underlined that digital network infrastructures, including the Internet are at the heart of the digital economy, as they carry the digital revolution and enable the scaling of digital technologies that can contribute to addressing some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. He emphasized that to ensure that everyone benefits from the digital revolution, everyone must be connected and be able to use the Internet and the services that run on it. In this regard, Mr. Ba stressed that while the private sector has a paramount role in overcoming the Internet access and adoption barriers, the public sector needs to ensure that the right enabling environment is created and incentives are set for the private sector to invest and connect everyone, also in underserved areas.

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.