Etisalat chief executive says public-private partnerships key to universal broadband access

BARCELONA // Etisalat’s group chief executive has stressed the key role of public-private partnerships in helping achieve universal broadband access, in a high-profile summit at the Mobile World Congress on Monday.

“Etisalat believes that access to broadband is a basic right for everyone and it can be served smartly, where needed,” said Ahmad Julfar in his address to the Mobile World Summit in Barcelona.

“But providing universal access to broadband poses a challenge for telcos because network investments not only have long payback periods and capex on infrastructure today yields diminishing returns.”

Mr Julfar noted that although the economic, social and environmental benefits of increased connectivity are clear have been known for some time, there remains a clear digital gap, with some 60 per cent of the world’s population unconnected up to now.

Closing this gap will require new competitive models that will allow operators to focus on market value creation through collaboration between private and public sectors, to distribute more choice, affordability and welfare to citizens, he commented.

In addition to his role at Etisalat, Mr Julfar holds the position of vice chair of the GSM Association (GSMA), organisers of MWC and industry body for more than 800 telecoms operators and over 250 companies operating within the mobile sector worldwide.

Attendees at the invite only Mobile World Summit included her Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, in her capacity as United Nations Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, together with GSMA chairman and Telenor Group chief executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas, and Ann Cairns, President, International Markets, MasterCard.

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