Top telecoms in Africa and the Middle East – Airtel, Etisalat, MTN, Ooredoo, Orange, Vodafone and Zain — plan to cooperate on network infrastructure sharing initiatives.
The new initiative will spruce up the current mobile subscriber penetration of 40 percent in Africa and the Middle East, lower than the global average of 47 percent. The initiative was first discussed at the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Telecom industry body GSMA said telecom regulators should encourage flexible commercial sharing arrangements and facilitate access to government-owned assets at preferential rates to help speed up the roll-out of new networks and support the business case to extend mobile networks into rural areas.
Manoj Kohli, managing director, Bharti Enterprises and Chair of the Public Policy Committee of the GSMA board, who also supports the initiative, said: “We call on governments to support and encourage the commercial infrastructure sharing arrangements that we aim to propose.”
These seven major mobile operator groups serve 506 million customers across Africa and the Middle East.
The operators have made this commitment to provide Internet and mobile broadband access to unserved rural communities and drive down the cost of mobile services.
The plan for sharing telecom network infrastructure was approved by Christian de Faria, CEO Africa, Bharti Airtel, Ahmad Julfar, group CEO, Etisalat Group, Sifiso Dabengwa, CEO and president, MTN Group, Nasser Marafih, group CEO, Ooredoo Group, Marc Rennard, senior executive vice president, Africa, Middle East and Asia, Orange, Serpil Timuray, CEO, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific Region, Vodafone Group and Scott Gegenheimer, CEO, Zain Group.
They collectively manage 76 mobile network operations across 47 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where many of the unconnected population live in rural areas.
Pix source: GSMA