LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 SERIES – AFRICA: The relationship between operators, regulators and policy makers “needs to be reviewed and enhanced” to match the evolving needs of the ICT sector, Ahmad Julfar, CEO of Etisalat Group, warned.

“In the 1980s or 1990s, the governments intervened to deregulate the telecoms industry, and it was the right decision. And at that time the objectives and the KPIs of the regulators and the policy makers was to introduce competition, improve coverage, reduce prices, increase penetration, and introduce new services and the internet,” he said.

“Today, these objectives have been fulfilled, 100 per cent, or for some of them, partly. So this is where a new intervention is required today: to set new objectives for regulators and policy makers of the ICT industry, in order to increase investment, create more jobs, have more spectrum, so that we have coverage and better speed and better capacity, and ultimately this will lead to the government making more from the taxation it applies,” he continued.

The executive pointed to its home market of the United Arab Emirates as a good example.

“The government decided to allocate enough spectrum to both operators for 4G, at very low rates. That is going to create a huge opportunity for investment. We see both operators investing heavily in 4G, creating more jobs. In the end, revenue will increase, and the government is going to make more money from taxation,” Julfar said.

“In the end, everybody is winning. Customers get better quality, better coverage and better speed. Operators and governments are winning. This is a winning formula which I think we need to replicate in other countries,” he continued.

The Etisalat chief would not be drawn on whether Etisalat intends to build its presence in Africa, following its earlier acquisition of Maroc Telecom, which has operations in several markets in the region.  “Whenever there is a good opportunity that is matching our strategy, we will look at it,” he commented.