Industry group GSMA announced Orange CEO Stephane Richard (pictured) will be its next chairman and oversee the strategic direction of the organisation, as it elected new board members.

“Mobile operators and our wider industry have a key role to play in promoting a safer and more inclusive digital world, while building the infrastructure and services that will carry us forward as we enter this new era of intelligent connectivity,” Richard said in a statement.

Richard will replace Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises, as chair of the GSMA. Mittal expressed confidence the “GSMA will continue to strongly advocate for its members, drive the adoption of new technologies and deliver initiatives to protect our planet and its citizens,” under the Orange chief’s tenure.

The GSMA board is comprised of 26 members, 25 of which are from mobile operators. Chua Sock Koong, CEO of Singtel Group, was appointed as deputy chair with other appointments coming from operators including America Movil; AT&T; China Mobile; China Telecom; China Unicom; Bharti Airtel; Deutsche Telekom; Etisalat; and MTN Group among others.

All appointments run for two years, effective from 1 January.