Page 5 - SAMENA Trends - June-August 2021
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        Thriving in the Era of Digital Interdependence and

        Sustainability Challenges

        In times when focused recovery efforts are   The  fulfillment  of  these  expectations  and
        required for mitigating losses and newness   goals  require  security,  predictability,  and
        brought  forth  by  the  Covid-19  crisis  —   sustainable  investments  and  partnerships,
        which almost took the world by surprise and   fit-for-purpose   collaborative   policy
        foreshadowed concerns that there could be   and  regulation,  and  targeted  demand-
        similar or worse crises situations to emerge   side  approaches,  and  to  an  extent,  new
        in the future, thus reinforcing the need for   experimentation.  Amidst  these  priorities,
        solid, reliable and resilient communications   notably,  lie  two  daunting  challenges,
        networks more than ever — several urgencies   however:  first,  filling  three  gaps  —  the
        have been highlighted, including the need to   broadband  coverage  gap,  the  network
        reduce vulnerabilities for both humans and   upgrade  gap  and  the  broadband  adoption
        ICT  systems,  and  to  build  trust  in  digital   gap;  and,  second,  ensuring  accelerated
        technologies while ensuring protection and   pace of adoption of 5G and its meaningful
        privacy  of  data  that  flows  across  network   use as well as well return on investments for
        elements.  These  urgencies  stand  tall  and   Operators. This is not at all easy to do, as it
        pronounced  against  the  backdrop  of  an   also involves re-thinking financing, funding,   Bocar A. BA
                                                                                      Chief Executive Officer & Board
        existing, complex digital ecosystem, which   and  investment  models  for  sustainable   Member
        is  highly  interdependent  and  demands   broadband development. And this is where   SAMENA Telecommunications
        sustainability, and with which many global   innovation  and  really  experimentation   Council
        as  well  as  nation-level  expectations  and   should  be  laser-focused  at  this  age  and
        progress-making are directly linked.  in  time.  Ongoing  post-Covid-19  recovery
                                              efforts and our overarching globally-agreed   with, is the realization that while digital
        All  stakeholders  in  the  economic  value-  goals demand consistency, coherence,   transformation and the increasingly
        chain  are  striving  to  contest  negative   collaboration, predictability, and enablement   digitalized economy  brings  many
        impact  on  revenues,  decreasing  ARPU   at this critical juncture, the "final decade of   benefits,  the  degree  and  sustainability
        and  profit,  and  a  decrease  in  employment   action".                   of  such  benefits  heavily  depend  on
        for  impacted  sectors  and  firms;  revenue                                the local conditions  at  hand; whether
        losses to governments; loss of a degree of   As  we  near  2030,  the  necessity  for  digital   digital  infrastructure  is  available  and
        control of governments over non-traditional   resilience,  resilient  networks  and  robust   analogue  complements  exist;  whether
        digital  communication  service  providers;   connectivity,  which  are  crucial  for  making   services  are  inclusive  and  affordable;
        and  a  host  of  technical  issues  that  relate   the  most  beneficial  use  of  the  Internet,   whether relevant content and skills are
        to  Universal  Service  Requirements,  data   lie  at  the  heart  of  how  modern  human   present;  and  how  value  is  generated
        privacy or consumer protection regulations,   civilization  conducts  itself  and  deals  with   and whether it is locally captured.
        flow of data across borders, taxation, and so   new  challenges,  while  paving  a  path  for
        on and so forth.                      new  opportunities.  We  need  to  ensure  we   Thriving   in   this   era   of   digital
                                              account for those opportunities, while being   interdependence  and  sustainability
        Expectations put forth by international ICT   equally  outcome-driven  about  addressing   challenges  requires  a  very  coherent,
        community, with our region's policymakers   challenges  and  issues  that  require  multi-  collaborative  action  plan.  SAMENA
        and  regulators  at  the  forefront,  have   lateral approaches, dialogue, collaboration,   Council  has  the  privilege  to  make
        conspicuously  defined  priorities  attached   and  incentivization  steps  for  the  Private   contributions  on  these  necessary
        to them, such as universal access and the   Sector, so that sustainable investment and   collaboration-building   fronts
        development of meaningful and affordable   digital development happen at the required   by   building   bridges   among   the
        connectivity,  which  is  foundational  for   pace,  and  desired  benefits  for  the  nations   stakeholders,  who  have  the  vision  to
        ensuring  digital  inclusion  and  expediting   and their governments are achieved.  leverage  interdependence  as  a  means
        digital  transformation  efforts,  to  achieve                              to achieve their own objectives.
        human condition-enhancing outcomes.   One of the changed realities we  are faced

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