x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Telecoms can ring in required changes to turbocharge country

Telecommunications is transformative. It transforms people's lives, it transforms business and it transforms economies.

Telecommunications is transformative. It transforms people's lives, it transforms business and it transforms economies.

There have been myriad studies by management consultants, notably by Deloitte for GSMA, the global association of mobile phone operators, which report the positive effect increased mobile penetration has on economic growth.

However, telecoms does more than just power economies - it connects the unconnected, gives banking facilities to the un-banked, offers access to education and provides health care to even the most remote rural areas.

Telecoms is more than a data pipe, a dial tone or a carrier signal. It is a growth engine where the multiplier effect on GDP is significant.

Operators are now innovators, helping people, governments and businesses do things more efficiently, more quickly and at lower cost.

The delivery of solutions through applied technology - mobile social networks, cloud computing, mobile payments, mobile health care, distance learning and education, machine-to-machine communication and networking - are helping to shape the way we live and work, while accelerating social development and economic growth.

The number of people connected to mobile broadband is forecast to rise tenfold by 2015 and it is smartphones and mobile broadband connectivity that are the internet enablers that create the physical environment for economies to grow.

The mobile handset bridges the digital divide. It changes the lives of people for the better, catalysing economic growth, connecting people to the world.

The challenge facing governments, regulators, policymakers and the telecoms industry is how to harness the power of communications and use it to facilitate the transformation of economies for long-term growth and prosperity, not for short-term fiscal gain.

While we forge ahead with the "broadband for all" vision, we are also conscious of the need for a collaborative approach among governments, regulators, policymakers and the telecoms industry to create the right environment for the growth in adoption of information and communications technology (ICT) at a national level.

An appropriate policy ecosystem is a prerequisite to encourage the innovation and entrepreneurship that will unlock the economic value of mobile broadband connectivity.

The digital economy can foster innovation and socio-economic growth if it is properly encouraged by a long-term vision and a policy framework that provides robust fiscal, administrative, legal and regulatory environments.

Together, we have a huge opportunity to capitalise on the rapid deployment of mobile broadband connectivity to turbocharge economic growth and social development. But it will take a coordinated effort among stakeholders, policymakers and industry players to realise that potential.

In the UAE, we are fortunate that investments in state-of-the-art next-generation networks are ready to catalyse the nation's ICT infrastructure and enhance the country's position as the leading regional hub.

With the completion of one of the world's first nationwide fibre-to-the-home networks and a long-term evolution, or 4G, network, governments, businesses and individuals are now ready to enjoy the applications that will help them develop economic growth and add value to their personal lives.


Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar is the group chief executive of Etisalat