Rethinking ICT regulation

Regulators’ essential role in capturing the full potential of the ICT sector

Published: 23.09.2014
by Bahjat El-Darwiche, Milind Singh, Sandeep Ganediwalla, Rawia Abdel Samad
In the seven years since we published our path breaking study on regulation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) information, communications, and technology (ICT) sector,1 much has changed in both the region and the industry. Today, MENA countries have far higher rates of ICT penetration and usage, with average mobile penetration exceeding 100 percent. Broadband household penetration in mature markets is approaching 100 percent and in the most mature markets is actually above that level. The telecom sector itself has undergone a fundamental transformation, evolving from a primary focus on infrastructure and basic connectivity to a focus on a broad range of services related to digitization — a phenomenon that we have defined as the mass adoption of connected digital services by consumers, enterprises, and governments. These services include cloud computing, smart meters, e government, and remote health monitoring.

In light of the many changes in the MENA region’s ICT sector, Strategy&, in collaboration with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, Bahrain, has updated its 2007 study. In this report we address three key questions:

  1. How important is regulation in the new digital environment, which places greater emphasis on services than on infrastructure?
  2. How should regulation evolve to suit the needs of the new digital environment?
  3. Where do MENA countries currently stand in this evolutionary process, and what paths might they follow in the next decade?

1 Karim Sabbagh, Bahjat El-Darwiche, Chady Smayra, and Fady Elias, “Toward more effective regulation: Unlocking the value of telecom markets in the MENA region,” Strategy&, 2007.


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