GSMA Calls for Regulatory Framework to Drive Digital Agenda

Director General of the GSMA, Mats Granryd

By Emma Okonji

The Global System for Mobile Communication Association (GSMA) has stressed the need for a regulatory framework in telecommunications that will drive the global digital transformation agenda.

Director General of the GSMA, Mats Granryd, who made the call at the ongoing Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, proposed a regulatory framework to boost security and bring to fruition, an era of intelligent connectivity, in a bid to accelerate the adoption of a common digital transformation agenda.

According to him, the move would help to build a better future by demonstrating leadership in security and trust.
“The GSMA is working on behalf of our members to unite the broader digital ecosystem behind a common vision, namely to act ethically in the digital economy. The security of financial transactions is critical to consumer trust.
“When you can trust someone with your money, you can trust them with pretty much anything.”

Meanwhile, the European Commission (EU) has vowed to ensure swift resolution of 5G security issue across globe. European Commissioner for digital economy and society, Mariya Gabriel sought to diffuse what she described as mobile industry unrest on the 5G network security issue, stating her organisation was working to bring a solution to the table very soon.

Speaking at the MWC in Spain, Gabriel acknowledged concerns raised by the mobile industry on potential legislation related national security and 5G rollout.

“I am well aware of the unrest among all of you key actors in the telecommunications sector caused by the ongoing discussions on the cybersecurity of 5G, but let me reassure you that the Commission takes your view very seriously, because you need to run these systems every day,” Gabriel said.

Outside of the security debate, Gabriel praised the status of 5G development and rollout across the European Union, adding the Commission aimed to be at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence (AI) development.

On the issue of regulatory framework for digital agenda, Granryd said: “If the mobile and tech industries take the lead on this, we will be able to bring other industries and governments with us.”

The regulatory framework, Granryd explained, “must be fit for the digital age, with key objectives such as the need for various governments to support the initiative without killing the long-term opportunity by short-term greediness.”

“Next, is the approval for consolidation to drive investment while maintaining effective competition, and thirdly, we need to see the same rules for equivalent digital services, with an even playing field for operators and internet players; and lastly, we must have harmonised international privacy and data protection rules,” he added.

“The framework is something we at the GSMA will be working hard on behalf of the generality of the public to secure,” Granryd said, adding that the organisation stood ready to work with governments and regulators of various countries to put any of such concerns to rest.

The Head, sub-Saharan Africa for GSMA, Mr. Akinwale Goodluck, had said although Nigeria still operates 2G and 4G networks, they would gradually give way for 5G as the demand for 5G increases among the millennial, who are the digital natives.

A GSMA’s recent report titled: ‘Spotlight on Nigeria: Delivering a Digital Future,’
Had noted that modernising regulation and policy reform would be crucial to boosting Nigeria’s digital economy and accelerating internet access for millions through increased mobile broadband penetration.

GSMA research had showed that the mobile market in Nigeria makes an important contribution to the economy.
Addressing the issue of spectrum to drive 5G rollout, GSMA had identified support for and release of harmonised spectrum and a modernised licensing framework as fundamental building blocks for Nigeria’s digital future.

He added that for Nigeria to take full advantage of the next phase of its digital transformation, it’s vital that collaboration between industry and government enables the right policy environment for millions more to benefit from ultra-fast mobile broadband.

According to Goodluck, “If policies don’t keep pace with the needs of society and technological innovation, there is a risk that citizens will be left behind and productivity and competitiveness will suffer.”

However, the report concludes that there is still broad scope for Nigeria to increase its mobile penetration, adding that although more Nigerians are getting access to mobile broadband, the country lags behind regional peers in 4G adoption.

It said accelerating adoption of 4G would enable more advanced services and create bigger societal impacts.
The GSMA report pointed out that with increased spectrum harmonisation and licensing reform, the country’s mobile penetration is forecast to rise to 55 per cent of the population by 2025, with 70 per cent having 3G connectivity and 17 per cent having access to 4G networks.

Currently, only 44 per cent of mobile subscribers in Nigeria are using 3G technology and four per cent are using 4G technology, compared to over 18 per cent 4G penetration in South Africa and 16 per cent in Angola.