Press Release

Press Release

During GSR-19, SAMENA Council Emphasizes on the Sustainable Expansion of Digital Infrastructure to Connect the Unconnected and Reiterates the Need to Achieve Equilibrium in Regulation, Multi-Stakeholder Engagement, and Market Forces

Vanuatu, July 9, 2019 – SAMENA Telecommunications Council, represented by its CEO Bocar A. BA attended the 19th Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR19), which took place from July 9 to 12 in Port Vila, Vanuatu. As the chairman of the Private Sector Chief Regulatory Officer’s Meeting (“CRO”), Mr. BA Chaired the discussion of the industry that focused on the need to adopt collaborative approaches necessary for connecting the remaining 49% of the worlds' population, still unable to benefit from the digital revolution. In his opening remarks, preceding a leaders' debate, Mr. BA also drew attention to the globally important issue of protecting children in the digital space, and specifically called for action from governments to ratify an international "Child Safety On-line" declaration.

Under the chairmanship of Mr. BA, the CRO Meeting called for new collaborative approaches to connect those who are still not able to benefit from the digital revolution, including a broader engagement of the public sector, as well as concerted efforts from all stakeholders of the ecosystem to facilitate financing of infrastructure expansion, particularly in areas with low commercial viability. As such, the Meeting identified that the policy and regulatory environment has to provide the right incentives to ensure that inclusivity can be achieved commercially in a sustainable way and emphasized that in areas that are uneconomical, the right balance has to be struck between regulation, public sector involvement and competitive market forces.

Calling for broader, collaborative engagement of the public sector with the private sector, Mr. BA also emphasized on realizing a sense of urgency among the governments and collective responsibility of both the public and private sectors to bring about required changes; including among other priorities, taking proper regulatory measures compliant with both globally-agreed and national aspirations, optimizing taxation regimes, ensuring the timely and cost-effective availability of spectrum to promote new technology adoption, stimulating demand, and, importantly, creating relevance in content to help promote internet access.

In this 19th edition of the GSR, regulators and private-sector experts from all over the world discussed the future of regulation as the fast-changing ICT landscape - with new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, the Internet of Things and 5G, as well as new business and investment models - continues its trajectory toward accelerated transformation. The GSR has successfully drawn attention to the need to connect the remaining 3.7 billion people who are still not using the Internet.

SAMENA Council's participation in the GSR, both as a Sector-D Member as well as a contributing private-sector representative entity, entrusted to take leadership role in advocating on multiple areas of importance to the Digital Communications Industry, especially Telecom Operators, has been active with the ITU since the Union developed the key concepts of "collaborative regulation" and "fifth-generation regulation" -- both of which have thus far successfully described the need for ICT policy and regulatory frameworks to be inclusive, relevant, and incentive-driven for the private sector. As a sector-development partner to Regulators in the SA-ME-NA region, SAMENA Council continues to anticipate and support the need for policy and regulatory frameworks to be practical, reality-based, and decision-oriented as well, so that national ICT visions can be fulfilled as smoothly and promptly as possible. This, in SAMENA Council's strong views, requires very close engagement and trust-driven exchange of information and partnership development between the public and private sectors.

Held under the global theme of "Inclusive connectivity: The future of regulation", GSR has succeeded in serving as a needed opportunity for fostering dialogue and drawing world-wide policymaker and regulator-level attention to specific areas of the future ICT policy and regulatory environment.