Telecom operators and technology providers from around the South Asia, Middle East and North Africa region gathered in Doha along with ICT policymakers to discuss the evolving digital landscape and the challenges and opportunities it presents, at the “Beyond Connectivity 2015” summit organized by SAMENA Telecommunications Council.
The summit was held at the Ritz Carlton West Bay Lagoon under the theme “Meeting the Digital Agenda: “Maximizing Telcos’ Revenues through Harmonized Excellence”.
According to SAMENA Council CEO Bocar BA, “The SAMENA Council’s Beyond Connectivity Conference this year represents a key milestone in the Council’s progress towards achieving the Digital Agenda. The participation of the different telecom industry stakeholders in the conference reflects the spirit of cooperation towards building consensus around major industry challenges and opportunities like: achieving the digital agenda, the rise of spectrum needs, satellite broadband emerging technologies, international mobile roaming and the cooperation across the content stakeholders.”
Dr Nasser Marafih, Group CEO, Ooredoo and Chairman of the SAMENA Council commented: “The Summit is an unrivalled industry platform for our region, helping facilitate meaningful discussions between a wide variety of telecom industry stakeholders. This is important as the future of our industry is dependent on our ability to work together to find solutions to the issues discussed today. As an industry we have a responsibility to provide the best possible service for the people of this region and to continue removing the barriers which prevent us from fully supporting their increasingly digital lifestyles.”
“In Qatar, ICT and, of course the adoption of it are integral to our vision of becoming a knowledge-based economy. It also aligns with the Human Development pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030. We are making considerable progress in increasing connectivity, improving digital literacy and fostering economic development through ICT,” said Reem Al-Mansoori, ictQATAR’s Assistant Undersecretary for Digital Society Development.
She added: “It takes more than just building the infrastructure to realize true benefits. ictQATAR is inclusive in its approach ensuring that ICT is adopted by all segments of Qatari society. Everyone needs to be digitally enabled, and we need to ensure that no one is left behind due to lack of access or skills to use technology. ictQATAR has designed a number of programs to bridge the digital divide, including among others, Haseen program- digital content on cyber safety integrated into English and Arabic lessons in schools; TumuhaTEC initiative to bring ICT into the workplace through attraction and retention. In addition we are also working to develop e-skills and digital literacy for our youth who are digital natives and are working on reaching out to the elderly through their children and grandchildren as part of an inter-generational lCT Learning program, ‘Wasla’.”
Mohammed Al Yami, Chief External Affairs Office at Vodafone Qatar, said: “On behalf of Vodafone Qatar, I would like to thank SAMENA Council for the opportunity to be amongst our peers from across the region and to be part of this prestigious event, Beyond Connectivity, which is a great industry platform that has sparked countless interesting debates, thoughts and recommendations. Over the past 6 years, Vodafone’s role was and remains as one of the key enablers of the digital agenda of the country backed by our steadfast commitment to continuously invest in the development of the sector. However, our nation and region’s digital ambitions cannot be achieved unless we all work together towards the common goals for the benefits of our industry, our customers and our stakeholders.”
Mobile operators today face a disruptive landscape, with increased competition from a variety of players, exponential growth in mobile data usage, industry consolidation and regulatory change,” said Peter Lyons, Director, Middle East and Africa, GSMA.
“Against this backdrop, operators are strategically aligned on important issues such as consumer trust and the value of being local, the relevance of the SIM, as well as the importance of global interoperability and scale. The GSMA is focused on driving collaborative action to enable operators to capitalise on new technology and market opportunities and address industry challenges, while providing significant socio-economic benefits for consumers, businesses and governments globally.”
Panel sessions at the summit opened with an engaging discussion on the topic ‘Achieving the Digital Agenda’ that sought to identify the measures of success vis-à-vis the implementation of the digital agenda and explore constructive solutions to the economic, regulatory and security challenges that might hinder the adoption of a truly digital society. Participants also discussed the possible socio- economic benefits of the Digital Agenda focusing on the impact of connectivity on human capital in particular.
The proceedings at the summit were followed by a gala dinner for attendees hosted by Vodafone Qatar.