GSR-14 Opening Speech
Dr Mohammed Ahmed Alamer, Chairman, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA),
Bahrain and GSR14 Chair
Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is my great pleasure to welcome you all not only to Bahrain, but also to the 14th edition of the Global Symposium for Regulators, GSR, which is taking place in this country.
GSR is a landmark event in the calendar of everyone working in the ICT and telecoms regulatory industry. The importance of GSR14 is evidenced by the hundreds of delegates that have registered for the next three days of lectures, workshops, seminars and networking opportunities.
Last year's symposium took place in Poland and we were honoured when the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) selected us for this year's event, which it is organising in conjunction with the Government of Bahrain.
Bahrain has the highest telecommunications infrastructure index in the Middle East, and operates a full 4G service throughout the land. The increasing strength of our telecommunications and ICT infrastructure means that we feel confident and comfortable in our hosting of this symposium.
The way in which we embrace the latest technologies shows our dedication to the 'digital world', which will provide what we hope to be the perfect platform for the events planned for the next three days.
We are gathered here to examine ways of ensuring that the full array of benefits of the digital world is brought to all citizens in an informed, responsive and safe manner. This can only be achieved through effective and smart regulation targeted at empowering consumers, redefining responsibilities, and creating the conditions for a data-driven economy to flourish.
By the time this symposium has concluded, the goal is for us to be able to propose the adoption by stakeholding delegates of a set of regulatory best practice guidelines. That said, here in Bahrain we are very much in favour of the concept and execution of 'light touch' regulation. We firmly believe that market dynamics should shape the telecoms industry, and the competition within it.
Less intervention by our regulatory authority, or intervention only when failure occurs is the approach that defines us. We do understand however that every country has their own ethos when it comes to telecoms regulation – which is why we're all here.
Networking opportunities for this event have already begun, and will continue for the duration of the symposium through the use of an online interactive networking platform. We've set this up to enable appointments to be made using a PC, smartphone or similar. While we have a full and varied official agenda, the amount of productive discussion that goes on 'behind the scenes' is not to be underestimated, so the networking platform is a resource that we're providing and promoting.
You will by now have all received the full schedule of events for the next three days. We hope you agree that the topics to be discussed are topical, intricate and fully aligned with the workings of current telecoms regulatory industry on local, regional and international levels.
One topic that isn't on the agenda, yet is one that we feel overarches GSR14, is the aspect of environmental responsibility and green technology. We hope that this is a topic which is worthy of your consideration as the Bahrain TRA believes that there are many connections between the telecoms and ICT industries, and the environment at large.
Total customer confidence in a country's ICT infrastructure can have a positive impact on the environment and regulators have a part to play in this regard, even if it comes down to examining a prospective development and asking: 'Is this sustainable? Is this 'green'?' If individuals and companies are offered access to an ICT infrastructure that is modern, fast, reliable and correctly priced, then they are going to make the most of it. Working from home, teleconferencing, using e-Government services and online banking are just a few of the myriad ways in which CO2-producing journeys for face-to-face meetings can be lessened. Additionally, the installation of state-of-the-art equipment which provides more speed, uses less power and is designed to be as 'future proof' as possible for longevity – further saving resources – is a worthy goal, and is often directly in the hands of TRAs.
Here in Bahrain, for example, the maturity and state-of-the-art nature of our own telecoms and ICT infrastructure gives our service providers the confidence to enhance the suite of products they offer to the public in an environmentally ethical and resource-aware fashion, and to include this in their respective philosophies of Corporate Social Responsibility.
This is another facet of why we justifiably feel confident and comfortable as hosts of this prestigious, global event. Bahrain is a small country both in terms of size and population, nonetheless, the facts and figures surrounding our telecoms and ICT industry means that we can claim with justification to be a role model of what a modern, fast and well-connected communications infrastructure should look like.
I would like to sign off by offering my sincere thanks for your being here today. On behalf of the ITU, the Government of Bahrain, and the Bahrain TRA, we sincerely hope that you find the next three days productive and informative.
Thank you for your time.