"We are greatly encouraged by the shared vision of mobile operators and the common urgency to find solutions that will drive down the cost of mobile and Internet services and help connect the unconnected," Anne Bouverot, Director General at GSMA said.
"Unique mobile subscriber penetration is only 40 per cent in Africa and the Middle East, lower than the global average of 47 per cent, so we need to work together to expand the reach of mobile."
The initial group of senior leaders who support this initiative includes:
-Christian de Faria, CEO Africa, Bharti Airtel
-Ahmad Julfar, Group CEO, Etisalat Group
-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
-Serpil Timuray, CEO, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific Region, Vodafone Group
-Scott Gegenheimer, CEO, Zain Group
Between the operators involved, they collectively manage 76 mobile network operations across 47 countries in Africa and the Middle East, serving 506 million customers.
Manoj Kohli, Managing Director of Bharti Enterprises and Chair of the Public Policy Committee of the GSMA board, also supports the initiative: "This co-operation demonstrates that the industry is committed to innovating in order to serve the billions living in the rural areas. We call on Governments to support and encourage the commercial infrastructure sharing arrangements that we aim to propose."
According to a statement, the participating operators have made this commitment in order to provide Internet and mobile broadband access to un-served rural communities and drive down the cost of mobile services for all sections of the population.