CEO of telecom identifies solution

Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Group, Ahmad Julfar has identified public private partnership (PPP) as one approach that could help African countries boost broadband development.

Ahmad Julfar argued that access to broadband is a basic right for everyone, he however lamented that artificial policies, long pay-back on infrastructure investments and diminishing returns impact ability of telcos to invest and innovate in broadband infrastructure.

Addressing global leading figures in telecoms at Mobile World Summit (MWS) of this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the Etisalat Group CEO stressed that public internet needed to evolve further, adding that this requires investment in capacity, new solutions and technologies.

He argued that the carriers will not be able to drive this alone, as they face the risk of a big disruption due to the shifts across the value chain, necessitating the PPP approach.

“Etisalat believes that access to broadband is a basic right for everyone and it can be served smartly, where needed. But providing universal access to broadband poses a challenge for telcos because network investments not only have long pay-back periods and capex  on infrastructure today yields diminishing returns,” Jukfar said.

Mr. Julfar said “new investment models based on semi-public funding from governments or infrastructure-sharing models defined by regulators are urgently needed and should be encouraged.”

“The benefits of increasing connectivity are clear to see in economic, social and environmental fields, but there is a clear digital gap. Some 60 per cent of the world’s population remains unconnected, the majority of which is in rural areas of the developing world,” he said while speaking on Connecting Billions Across the Developing World. By 2020, approximately 3.8 billion men and women, or half of the world’s population will be connected to the internet through mobile and a vast majority of the new users will be in developing countries.

“Telecoms revolutionises everything we do; it is the industry that changes all other industries; governments know it.  That is why, over the past 10 years, more than 150 governments have developed or are developing national broadband networks.  The primary goal is to make the country benefit from the economic impact of broadband. And we share a common interest to keep investing in the future internet,” he added.

Mr. Julfar proposed a number of changes in the telecoms ecosystem comprising governments, regulators, internet companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

He urged all to embrace new competitive models to allow telcos focus on market value creation through collaboration between private and public sectors to distribute more choice, affordability and welfare to citizens.

“Some of the most innovative models today come from emerging countries. Etisalat Group takes a different approach in various developing countries that it operates in, and not one size fits all. Our ability to be flexible to meet individual market need drives our growth across the region. This flexible approach has enabled Etisalat Group to extend service provision for millions of people,” he said. Source: Biztechafrica

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