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The GSMA: Operators to Reduce Roaming Costs Across Africa and Middle East

The GSMA today announced that senior leaders from nine major mobile operator groups, accounting for over half a billion mobile connections across 48 countries in Africa and the Middle East, are individually undertaking initiatives designed to reduce the cost of roaming for consumers across both regions. The nine operator groups are committed to a range of roaming initiatives that, in addition to addressing pricing, will improve regional connectivity and mobility by increasing roaming footprints to provide greater customer choice, with a particular focus on improving routes for pre-paid customers. These combined efforts will enable consumers in Africa and the Middle East to use their mobile phones with greater confidence and predictability whilst travelling.

“International and regional mobility is a critical factor in increasing trade and cross-border economic cooperation, which is a government priority across Africa and the Middle East,” said Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA. “The initiatives of these nine operators are intended to serve to increase connectivity and make mobile more affordable for subscribers throughout these regions, encouraging greater adoption and usage of mobile services and enabling important socio-economic benefits.”

As part of their work, the operators will look at a range of factors that affect roaming prices, with the aim of improving technical efficiencies and reducing costs. The senior leaders from the nine mobile operator groups supporting these initiatives are:

  • Christian de Faria, CEO Africa, Bharti Airtel
  • Ahmad Julfar, Group CEO, Etisalat Group
  • Arthur Bastings, EVP Africa, Millicom
  • Sifiso Dabengwa, CEO and President, MTN Group
  • Dr. Nasser Marafih, Group CEO, Ooredoo Group
  • Marc Rennard, Senior Executive Vice President, Africa, Middle East and Asia, Orange
  • Abdulaziz A. Alsugair, Chairman and Managing Director, STC Group
  • Serpil Timuray, CEO, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific Region, Vodafone Group
  • Scott Gegenheimer, CEO, Zain Group

GSMA research has shown emerging markets, including many countries in Africa and the Middle East, are now the major engines of mobile connection and subscriber growth. The rapidly increasing pace of mobile adoption has delivered huge economic benefits for the regions, with the mobile industry directly contributing US $60 billion to the sub-Saharan African economy, or six per cent of GDP and US $132 billion to the economies of the Arab States, or approximately 5.5 per cent of total GDP.

Bouverot continued, “Mobile is focused on connecting the billions of unconnected around the world, providing access to critical communications, information and services and offering new economic opportunities. Market dynamics are delivering more affordable roaming prices and better value for consumers. Within both regions this will be driven in particular by the move from voice to more price elastic data usage.”


Notes to Editors

Unless otherwise stated, market data is sourced from GSMA reports including The Arab States Mobile Observatory: and Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa Report 2013

About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.

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