SAMENA Telecommunications Council concludes Beyond Connectivity 2013 Conference
- United Arab Emirates: Monday, March 11 - 2013 at 13:39
- PRESS RELEASE
SAMENA Telecommunications Council, the tri-regional non-profit telecommunications association successfully concluded its two-day annual "Beyond Connectivity 2013 Conference" held in Istanbul, during which it launched its Digitization Programme covering 25 countries and called upon the telecommunications industry's key stakeholders to further collaborate and cooperate to accelerate socio-economic development in the region.
A key panel discussion, the "CEO Live Session" held earlier today provided CEO's of leading telecom operators in the region an opportunity to interact with the audience and share their ideas, strategies and approach to leadership. Moderated by Tolga Ulutas, Senior Executive CHT Operations, Accenture - Turkey, discussions involved Sheikh Mohamed Isa Al Khalifa, Chairman of SAMENA Council & Group CEO of Batelco, and other Chief Executive Officers: Hakam Kanafani of Türk Telekom Group, Hani Alshakhs of Tawasul Telecom - Iraq and Marc Halbfinger of PCCW Global, as well as Subhra Das, EVP - Consumer & Digital Business Unit at du - UAE.
Delving on the fact that ICT is transforming all industries and that telcos can become enablers of Digital Economy, the CEO panellists were unanimous in accepting the critical need for telecom operators to create and build innovation, and change their business models, which they agreed aren't sustainable, in order to provide the best and most valuable service to customers. This strong call-to-action was based on the debate of whether telcos need to add more content or go head-to-head with OTT players, eventually becoming OTT players themselves. The panellists drew the attention of the audience to the need of building better infrastructure, looking at customer usage and adding value, and providing customers what they really need. The session closed with the panel stating that all operators need to fight for a level playing field and the need for OTT players to be regulated the same way as the telcos especially in reference to privacy protection.
Highlighting the objective of SAMENA Council of promoting the development and adoption of national and sector-specific digitization policies that create new growth opportunities for all stakeholders, Bocar BA, CEO of SAMENA Telecommunications Council said, "The deployment of this program is about accelerating growth in the region, and considering that accelerated digitization will result in a $1.3 trillion cumulative increase in the regional GDP and the creation of over 7 million new business and 13.3 million new jobs by 2020, the Council is strongly focusing on digitization."
"The discussions over the last two days have been very fruitful and will definitely accelerate the process of driving the Digital Agenda forward in our respective markets. The opportunities are immense and we need to ensure that we can all embrace this digital transformation to drive socio-economic growth, exploit evolving market and technology trends, and improve the region's digitization rank to third globally by 2020. The SAMENA Council is glad to take a leadership role in this vital initiative and I look forward to working closely with our growing member base to accelerate the rate of adoption of digitization", added Bocar.
Welcoming everyone to Turkey, Dr. Tayfun Acarer, Chairman of Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) of Turkey raised a few challenges related to Internet Governance, OTT Services, Internet and Cyber Security, Connectivity Costs, Privacy of Personal Data, Roaming Rates, Digital Dividend, 4G and Rights of Way stating, "These are very important topics relevant to all stakeholders of the telecommunications industry and to all of us gathered here today and I encourage in-depth discussion, collaborative approaches and sharing of experience and expertise to maximize revenues and to help boost the industry growth further."
Drawing attention to whether the current governance system is appropriate to the multi-stakeholder model; the importance of protection and processing of personal data; importance of reducing international roaming rates to foster the development of ICT globally; allocation of frequency band for next generation technologies; and common infrastructure models for 4G and future technologies, Dr. Acarer added, "As industry leaders and drivers, we also need to look into low International Internet Connectivity costs and further development and diffusion of ICT's and broadband in developing countries to reduce the digital dividend, and boost economic growth in developing countries."
Pointing out that digital transformation and adapting our way of doing business to this transformation were inevitable, resulting in sustainable revenue growth, Türk Telekom Group CEO, Hakam Kanafani added, "The SAMENA region plays a significant role in digitization. Today, every telecommunication company, every mobile operator, every internet company, every content developer works to adapt to this digital transformation. We need to all come together to share our expertise, experiences and knowledge to maximize revenues through digital efficiency. We believe that digitization in the education, telecommunications and information technology sectors will deliver value across economic sectors and hence we have made substantial investments in these areas."
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