Following Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, senior leaders from major mobile operator groups serving 506 million customers across Africa and the Middle East have underway plans to cooperate on network infrastructure sharing initiatives that recognize the profound impact of mobile broadband and internet services on the citizens of both regions.
The move is in a quest to provide internet and mobile broadband access to unserved rural communities and drive down the cost of mobile services for all sections of the population. The representatives manage 76 mobile network operations across 47 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where many of the unconnected population live in rural areas.
Senior leaders supporting the initiative include; Christian de Faria, CEO Africa, Bharti Airtel, Ahmad Julfar, Group CEO, Etisalat Group, Dr. Nasser Marafih, Group CEO, Ooredoo Group, Sifiso Dabengwa, CEO and president, MTN Group, Marc Rennard, Senior Executive Vice president, Africa, Middle East and Asia, Orange, Serpril Timuray, CEO,Africa , Middle East and Asia Pacific Region, Vodafone Group, Scott Gegenheimer, CEO, Zain Group.
“The cooperation demonstrates that the industry is committed to innovating in order to serve the billions living in the rural areas. We call on governments to support and encourage the commercial infrastructure sharing arrangements to support and encourage the commercial infrastructure sharing arrangements that we aim to propose,” said Manoj Kohli, managing Director, Bharti Enterprises and chair of the public policy committee of the GSMA board.
The board however emphasizes on flexible telecom regulatory frameworks that will allow commercial sharing arrangements and facilitate access to government-owned assets at preferential rates to help speed up the roll-out of networks.