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Lively start for North Africa telco event

The annual North Africa Com conference and exhibition opened yesterday in Cairo with a lively keynote session in which representatives of some of the region’s leading operators, ISPs and regulators highlighted the many growth opportunities in the telecommunications market.

The conference opened with a market overview from Mai Barakat, Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, who said that “the opportunities in North Africa lie in rural expansion, converged services and the data market: Egypt remains the region’s largest market in terms of subscription counts followed by Algeria and Morocco””.

Her presentation was followed by Michel Monzani, Senior VP of Orange France Telecom Group, who described his company’s vision for the region, in particular its new investments in Tunisia and Morocco. The group’s strategy is “”to build roots to remain strong in difficult times (reducing costs, maintaining investment, working with solid local partners) while working on new sources of growth such as service innovation””.

Representing one of the region’s most talked-about markets, Cherif Yaici, Chief Strategy Officer of Algerie Telecom Group, gave an overview of Algeria’s telecommunications market and of his group’s unique position within it as incumbent and only fixed-line operator. In terms of commercial development, Algerie Telecom is focusing of corporate customers, broadband access and call centres. On the technical side, the company is migrating its network to IP, developing the national backbone, deploying Fttx and launching new services such as IPTV, VoD, VoIP and more.

Fadel Deguam gave a regulator’s perspective with an update on the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Egypt. He said that the NTRA’s primary objectives are to ensure free competition, while maintaining “”the right balance between accountability (to protect consumers and fulfil the interests of the state) and flexibility to attract investment and promote innovation””.

The morning’s discussions also included talks on building international connectivity and increasing capacity in the region, with contributions from representatives of Vivendi, Corning International Fibre, Acision and Egyptsat.

The afternoon’s conference was divided into two separate sessions: one on network evolution to LTE, and one on new revenue streams, with contributions from representatives of operators, ISPs, telecoms solutions vendors and consultants.

The second day will continue to look at strategies to continue growth in the region’s markets, with a keynote presentation from Hatem Dowidar, CEO of Vodafone Egypt, and contributions from operators Telecom Egypt, Mobinil, MDC Lebanon (managing firm for Vivacell Sudan), LinkedonLine and other companies specialising in the region’s market.

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