SAMENA Council Highlights Need to Accelerate Digitization; Promotes Methods to Achieve Regional Socio-Economic Progress

BYC 2013 - Image 1Dubai – UAE, March 06, 2013: On the opening day of the SAMENA Council’s Beyond Connectivity 2013 conference, Mohamed Isa Al Khalifa, Group CEO of Batelco and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the SAMENA Council, welcomed industry professionals and decision-makers to the annual conference, and emphasized on the need to define new digital agendas and create an enabling environment within the SAMENA region whereby the adoption of digital services, integrated ICT applications, and digital tools can be accelerated.

In his opening address, Mr. Khalifa said, “It is critical for us to collectively work toward ensuring that our future ICT policies are created and harmonized on the pillars of knowledge, collaboration, commonality in developmental goals, and the passion to achieve human success. We need to develop and sustain processes for accelerating digitization in our economies, to guarantee social and economic progress throughout South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.”

Reflecting on the Beyond Connectivity conference’s theme, Maximizing Revenues through Digital Excellence, Mr. Bocar BA, CEO of the SAMENA Council announced the finalization of the SAMENA ICT Policy Assessment and Digitization Study, initiated by the SAMENA Council in 2012 with the objective of understanding the state of digitization in the region, benefits of promptly executing national digitization plans, and ICT policy frameworks required to capture those benefits. The study was conducted in collaboration with Booz & Company, a globally renowned management consulting firm.

Commenting on the study, Bocar said, “The SAMENA Council’s study has shown that digitization requires and will drive substantial investment initiatives throughout the region’s expanding ICT ecosystem. Digitization is the future and a proven path to developing digital economies. If existing ICT policies are refined or new ones created with modern digital needs in perspective, the resulting accelerated rate of adoption of digital services will bring about substantial socio-economic benefit throughout the 25 markets that we have assessed in this study.”

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Mr. BA added, “If we focus immediately on understanding and enabling digitization, we will ensure that its economic as well as human capacity-building impact will be achieved sooner than later.”

Conducted at a regional level, with special focus given to ten countries, some of the findings of the SAMENA Council’s ICT Policy Assessment and Digitization study show that:

  • Countries in the SAMENA region are aware of digitization’s importance and of the role of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector as an economic enabler. However, an assessment of the extent of digitization across key economic sectors in the SAMENA region shows that most digitization applications in the region are limited in both scale and scope. The most active form of digitization has manifested itself in mobile banking, which comparatively enjoys a higher adoption rate.
  • Digitization will impact the society’s ability to transform itself and the governments’ capacity to realize transparency in governance and achieve economic efficiency.
  • Harnessing the benefits of digitization in the SAMENA region would require high investments of US$235 billion by 2020. The benefits of this investment will be shared by players within the ICT sector, across all economic sectors and the government.

As a part of this study, the SAMENA Council has also introduced a new concept of “SMART SAMENA”, which is built on the notion of accelerating digitization and meeting specific policy imperatives, which have been defined in the study.

About SAMENA:                                                     

SAMENA Telecommunications Council is a tri-regional, non-profit telecommunications association that represents over 40 telecommunications operators in 25 markets, representing an aggregate subscriber base of 700 million mobile users, 79 million fixed-line users, and 22 million broadband users. The Council’s membership embodies a community of telecom operators, manufacturers, government bodies, academia, and leading global management consultancy organizations. SAMENA’s Board of Directors and member companies include the largest regional operators and global multi-network operators as well as new competitive entrants. SAMENA focuses on digitization and broadband investment policies, and aims to promote beneficial regulation and governance that further industry evolution, as well as cooperation among key ICT industry stakeholders.