SAMENA Telecom Council CEO Bocar Ba Highlights Gulf Region’s Leading Role in 5G Infrastructure Adoption

Bocar Ba

At the Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh, Bocar Ba, the CEO of SAMENA Telecommunications Council, emphasized that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region are at the forefront of 5G technology adoption, particularly in infrastructure development, setting them apart from those primarily focusing on consumer applications.

Ba challenged the notion of 5G being merely an evolution of 4G, stating, “Many countries have promoted 5G as a consumer platform, a simple evolution from four to five. The way we address it in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and UAE is (via) infrastructure and environment.”

SAMENA Telecommunications Council, a nonprofit industry association headquartered in Dubai, has been a driving force for telecom operators across 25 countries, with a dedicated focus on 5G since 2018.

Ba further asserted, “While other regions of the world may speculate the rate at which 5G technology has delivered on its promise, Gulf countries have seen it as a shift in the infrastructure of connectivity and are on the right path to deliver on its initial promise.”

However, Kyriacos Kokkinos, former Minister of Innovation and Digital Policy of Cyprus, expressed skepticism regarding the global acceptance of 5G technology, emphasizing that it has not yet fully realized its potential. Kokkinos considered it an evolutionary step from 4G rather than a revolutionary leap.

In response to Ba’s perspective on marketing 5G as a consumer service versus an ecosystem, other panel participants argued that it was premature to make judgments about 5G’s success, as the technology is still in its early stages.

Mohammed Ben Amor, Director-General of the Arab Information and Communication Technology Organization (AICTO), cautioned against prematurely labeling 5G as a failure, emphasizing its technical success. He reminded the audience that 5G is a relatively young technology, only three years old.

Looking ahead, the panelists discussed their expectations for 6G technology, which is currently in the nascent stages of research and projected to emerge after 2030. Amor highlighted that 6G would offer incredible speeds, potentially exceeding 100 times the speed of 5G. Additionally, 6G would encompass a network of networks, collaborating with other connectivity technologies such as satellite and space communication, offering vast opportunities for effective utilization by the industry.

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